The EC has ruled that state subsidies to extend DTT across the country are illegal and has given Spain a four month-period to pay back €260 million that the Spanish government approved in its financial aid scheme to deploy DTT.
The EC has taken the decision on the grounds that technology neutrality was not respected to the benefit of DTT networks (mainly Abertis) and the detriment of satellite distribution (Astra)
The most affected Spanish regions are Catalonia, which will have to pay back €52 million, followed by Castilla-Leon with €38 million and Aragon with €20 million
In 2005, Spain decided to provide a subsidy of €260 million for the transition to DTT in remote areas of Spain, covering around 2.5 per cent of the population, without notifying it to the EC and with only terrestrial operators only benefiting from the subsidies. Luxembourg’s SES-ASTRA took the case to the EC on the grounds that the measure was discriminatory. In 2010, the EC opened an inquiry into the public financing of the DTT infrastructure.