SES has welcomed victory in five out of six appeals at the European Union’s Court of Justice which examined earlier verdicts and judgements which favoured the Kingdom of Spain, two Abertis affiliates and various Spanish regions in the case of the Spanish state aids to digital television. The core arguments concern state-funded aid to help the deployment of digital terrestrial TV.
The Court confirmed all legal points brought about by the EU Commission in its decision of June 2013, with the exception of one point that has been considered as lacking enough motivation to be accepted. According to the ECJ, the Commission needs to more clearly explain the grounds on which it found the state aids for the roll-out of the digital terrestrial television in Spain to be selective. While in its ruling the Court has annulled the EU’s first instance judgement and the Commission’s decision, SES notes that this annulment is based on formal grounds only and can in no way be interpreted as having accepted the merits of the arguments brought forward in the appeals against the Commission’s decision and the EU’s first instance judgment of November 2015.
“It should thus suffice that the EU Commission completes the motivation of that particular aspect of the decision, re-adopts and re-issues it for it to be enforceable again,” said John Purvis, Chief Legal Officer at SES. “This would in turn mean that, by then, the Commission’s decision would become fully enforceable in Spain in all its aspects concerning the illegal and incompatible state aids to the roll-out of the digital terrestrial television in Spain, allowing SES to compete as fairly as in other parts of Europe and around the world. While it will take more time than expected to achieve technological neutrality and competition on the merits, SES considers it essential that the current process be brought to completion to enable competition on the merits in Europe and in Spain in particular to the ultimate benefit of the digital television viewers in Spain and beyond.”