Italy is likely to hold a tender for awarding digital TV frequencies vacated with the analogue switch-off in June.
The whole procedure can be initiated only after Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development receives the green light on the draft regulations that have been submitted to the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, which is expected by the beginning of May.
The tender will award six new digital multiplexes both to existing broadcasters as well as to new participants on the local TV market. RAI, Mediaset, Telecom Italia Media, and Sky Italia are all expected to take part, as well as other Italian media groups such as RCS and L’Espresso. According to local media reports, foreign players like Liberty Media, Virgin and RTL are known to be interested.
Meanwhile, Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) has warned that the transition to DTT in Italy could strengthen the mainstream media already on the market and undermine pluralism. It believes that the tender criteria seem to favor incumbents because “greater diversity of content is requested, which is something that will be difficult for the new players to offer”. IPI is of the opinion that the offer will serve to consolidate the current situation of duopoly in which RAI and Mediaset have more than 75 per cent of the audience.