Chilean channels analyze options to finance DTT network

The Chilean National TV Association, which gathers seven free-to-air channels, is studying the construction of a new DTT network. The Director of the Digital TV project of such entity, Juan Agustín Vargas, pointed out that among the possible options, they were "evaluating the construction of network in an integrated manner", instead of constructing networks independently. According to the executive, within three years, DTT coverage might reach the 92% of the population. Vargas recognized that they had also held conversations with infraestructure companies like American Tower and Abertis, to analyze the possibility to outsource the network. However, before moving forward with further investments, operators are waiting for certain definitions, such as the approval of Digital TV Act.

La Tercera newspaper informed that the aforementioned agency had estimated that the network would involve a USD 60 million investment. However, for the Telecommunications Sub Secretary, Jorge atton, such figure should be much higher. Vargas explained that before investing operatos are waiting for the UHF band radiobroadcasting plan, which should be disclosed by the Sub Secretary of Telecommunications in March. "As it has not been defined yet, no trasnmitters or antennas can be bought, and no investments can be assigned though we know that they have been working on it", Vargas stated.

Moreover, they are waiting for Congress to pass the Digital TV Act, something that should happen by mid 2011. Not until then will the network construction start. According to the executive, the total investment required in the digital system project would amount to USD 300 millions. However, simulcast term is expected to be as short as possible given the high cost involved in the operation of two networks. Vargas stated that "advertising will not be enough". At present, big channels invest about USD 50 millions per year to keep about seven thousand programming hours. Current advertising incomes surpass the USD 400 millions annualy. Vargas mentioned that some of the income sources to consider might be the rent of spaces to carry other channels and the explitation of two or three channels simultaneously.

Anatel I smade up by: Telecanal, Red Televisión, UCV televisión (Universidad Católica de Valparaíso), TVN, Megavisión, Chilevisión and Canal 13.