DTT switchover in Portugal hits problems
From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Technical problems and the lack of new TV channels have so far marred the introduction of DTT in Portugal.

On January 5th, the country’s Parliament started an urgent debate to discuss the migration of Portugal’s TV system to digital, as a result of motions filed by the Communist Party (PCP) and the Socialist Party (PS).

The Socialists submitted a proposal of a resolution, asking the Government to provide universal coverage of the digital TV signal (via DTT and DTH) without additional costs for users. They also want the Government to promote the opening of new TV channels in order to provide a more attractive offer.

For their part, the Communists point out that the whole process has been faced with coverage problems from the very start and that one million Portuguese citizens risk being left out. The PCP has also proposed that the digital switchover is put back to give enough time to resolve the outstanding issues.

The Union of Workers (CT) of Portuguese public broadcaster RTP claims that the way DTT is being introduced represents “an economic and political scandal” and has requested an alternative model that includes more digital TV channels. The Union points out that Portugal will have only four free-to-air DTT channels (RTP, RTP 2, SIC and TVI), compared to 48 in Spain, 44 in Estonia, 53 in Germany and 70 in Italy.

Meanwhile, Portugal Telecom announced on January 5th it would increase the subsidy for the acquisition of digital box to receive DTT via satellite to €37. As a result, Portuguese citizens will now pay €40 for each digital satellite receiver, instead of €55.

The first phase of the introduction of DTT in Portugal starts January 12th and expectations are that the country could be fully covered by April.