Spain offers second switch-off subsidies

Iñaki Ferreras ©RapidTVNews | 08-06-2012

Spain’s neighbourhood communities will be able to apply for public subsidies for the upgrades necessary for the second analogue DTT switch-off.

The second switch off will involve the migration of channels from one frequency to another to allow for the arrival of 4G mobile technologies in Spain, expected to start after the summer.

Unlike the first 'blackout' of DTT, which marked the end of analogue TV, this second switchover doesn’t entail the disappearance of any technology, but the migration from DTT channels from the frequencies they broadcast on now, between 61 to 69 radio channels, to others. This migration will mean that some communities will have to upgrade their antennae to continue watching all channels.

Under the plan designed by the previous Spanish Government, the costs of retuning were to be borne by the Government itself, up to 800 million euros, which would come from the money the phone companies paid to be part of the spectrum, the so-called 'digital dividend'. However, given the state budget, the current Government has reduced that amount to only 45 million euros.

This money will be mostly used for community grants to compensate, in part, users for having to pay some of the expenses necessary to receive the channels in the buildings affected by switchover.

The grant application will be made through the installer companies responsible for adapting the facilities of the buildings so that residents can continue to watch all free-to-view channels and these companies will act as intermediaries with the Government.

Funding will be available to retune the antennae for "communities of owners of a building or group of buildings subject to horizontal property regime" or "owners of a common infrastructure for digital television reception". In addition, the draft decree provides that "a grant may only be requested for each of the headers installed digital television reception".

The grants are intended to cover "investments and expenditures in buildings that are directly related to the actions required for access to television programmes that are broadcast on radio channels affected by the release of 'digital dividend'".

However, "no grant shall be subject to the application of a specific technological solution" so that, initially, the owners "may choose any available technology to allow the reception or access to audiovisual media services television buildings affected by the release of 'digital dividend', such as ADSL, cable, satellite, DTT or any other technology".

The amount of the subsidy will depend on each case, although the SETSI has opened a public consultation process with industry to assess potential technology solutions that can be implemented, and the draft Royal Decree determines that the amount of subsidy be fixed by "the technological solution that involves lower cost".