Advanced Television

Spain’s pay DTT at crossroads

April 14, 2009

From David Del Valle in Madrid

The Spanish DTT industry – electronic manufacturers, technology and content providers- is urging the Government to award the pay DTT licences as soon as possible on the grounds that a new delay would put at risk an estimated investment in the market of over E5 billion over the next four years.

All parties are asking the Administration to speed up the paperwork that will imply the one by one approval process of the licences, subject to the cabinet meeting’s decision, announced by the Ministry of Industry last week. At the same time, the electronic manufacturers are demanding further information about the technical development of the new service and urging the Government to pave the way for the implementation of a horizontal DTT market with open and compatible set-top-boxes.

The Electronic Manufacturers’ Association, ASIMELEC, warns that the launch of pay DTT will not be possible at least in four to six months. Manufacturers, software and technology providers, content providers and even potential investors are in a wait-and-see strategy until the final Government’s go-ahead endangering a potential business of E5 billion over the next four years, according to Industry figures. More than half of that amount would correspond to set-top-boxes and TV manufacturers and CAS providers; E1.3 billion to broadcasters, installers and TV signal carriers; E750 million to content producers.

Some companies, such as TV channel La Sexta and the Swedish DTT platform Dahlia TV, are already establishing a presence in the Spanish pay DTT market. La Sexta has already asked for a pay DTT licence to distribute pay content, mainly football and some other sports rights. Dahlia TV has announced that it will invest E150 million to develop a pay DTT platform with pay services that could have a fee of E10 a month.

The problem is that a very small percentage of the existing 17 million set-top-boxes in the market are MHP ready and able to have a common interface to insert a pay DTT card. Only 36,000 DTT devices out of 2.4 million sold last year were MHP-based products.

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