The current Spanish DTT offer of up to 45 TV channels may be reduced to half if the Government’s plan to reshuffle the TV map goes ahead. The Ministry of Industry is proposing TV broadcasters give up half of their DTT channels to make the TV business more sustainable and save the €800 million cost of the digital dividend whose allocation must be completed before January 1 2015.
The government aims to avoid that cost and earn €2 billion from telco operators (Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone) which would use those freed frequencies to develop 4G technology and broadband services. Likewise, it aims to reorganise the TV map at a time when TV ad revenues are in free fall and when most of the new DTT channels do not reach a two per cent audience rating.
The plan would affect all private and public TV channels both on a national and regional scale. For example, public TV group RTVE, which currently operates two multiplexes (with up to eight channels), would see its DTT offer reduce to only one multiplex (four channels).
The measure would have a big impact on the recently merged companies Tele 5 and Cuatro, and Antena 3 and La Sexta, now each one operating eight DTT channels as they would have to drop four channels each group. Veo and Vocento, with one multiplex each one (of up to four channels), would only operate two channels. Their respective agreements with US majors such as Discovery Networks or Viacom to rent their DTT channels might also be affected. The 50 per cent cut of DTT channels could also be a deadly blow to the development of 3D and HDTV.
TV broadcasters have already opposed the measure and threatened to take the case to court claiming damages. DTT licences were awarded for a period of 15 years and most of them will not expire until 2025.