Published: 11.07 Europe/London, May 26, 2011

Portuguese regulator Anacom has stepped in to prohibit pay-TV companies from implying that a subscription is required for consumers to receive the free-to-air channels RTP1, RTP2, SIC and TVI.

Anacom has said the move is simply precautionary and is designed to prevent companies or agents from persuading consumers, inadvertently or otherwise, to subscribe to services they do not really need.

The decree brings with it a penalty of between €500 and €3740 and between €5000 and €5,000,000, depending on the offence and who was responsible.

The decision follows local reports of actions in the first pilot zone of Anacom’s national switch off plan. It has emerged that doorstep selling and telephone marketing have given the impression that the only means to continue watching the current analogue line-up was through the purchase of a subscription, a point that Anacom emphasises is completely false.

Anacom acknowledges the switchover period presents an opportunity for companies providing pay-TV services to add additional subscribers. “However, it is not acceptable, in fact it is clearly illegal, for companies or their agents to exploit this business opportunity by adopting commercial practises that distort consumer choice, harming directly their own economic interests and indirectly those of their competitors”.