Argentine DTT licence auctions hit trouble

Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 24-11-2011

A pronounced lack of interest from prospective bidders has caused the Argentine government to extend, for a third time, the period during which private companies and non-profit organisations can bid for one of the 220 licences on offer to run a digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channel.
Following the second deadline extension, this week should have seen the first envelopes containing the multiple proposals being opened throughout the national territory. But, on Monday, the Federal Authority on Audiovisual Communication Services (Afsca) was forced to postpone the auction process once again – this time for another 90 days.
According to the country's biggest selling newspaper, Clarín (openly opposed to the Government and owned by the media group that would be hardest hit by a potential success of DTT), out of the 110 commercial channels up for grabs throughout the country there are 88 that haven't yet registered a single bid.
In other words, a whopping 75% of the channels available to be commercially exploited by private companies on the new DTT platform being aggressively rolled out by the government can't find any interested buyers.
In some provinces such as Buenos Aires (where eight commercial licences are being auctioned off), Chaco (another eight licences) and Formosa (four), not a single bid has materialised – in many cases not even the specification documents required to make a bid have been sold.
"It was to be expected that no one would turn up to set up a digital TV channel in Baradero, Campana, Cañuelas or Dolores [all in the Buenos Aires province], because the requirements to launch a station in these towns turned any project unviable," a lawyer who is participating in the Federal Capital licence auction was quoted as saying by Clarín.