Spanish government confirms cuts in DTT capacity

Iñaki Ferreras ©RapidTVNews | 22-06-2012

Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce has informed the nation’s private TV channels that it proposes to reduce digital terrestrial television (DTT) multiplexes in order to save €800 million for the process of digital dividend.

According to reports in Europa Press, the letter is de facto confirmation of the government’s aim to facilitate the arrival of the potentially lucrative fourth-generation telephony services and proposed that the chains reduce from six to five the multiplex used to transmit the channels.

Currently, six private operators—Mediaset España’s Telecinco, Grupo Planeta’s Antena 3, Mediapro’s laSexta, Mediaset España’s Cuatro, Vocento’s Net TV and SEE—each have a mux that can issue up to four SD strings.
The Ministry had originally proposed a more drastic reduction, by half, of the channels, in order to save the entire cost of the 'digital dividend', but the outright opposition by the channels to this plan has result in the compromise whereby the TV chains give up a multiplex, which theoretically would still allow them to maintain their current offer by further compressing the signal.

Additionally, the Ministry of Industry wants national public broadcaster Corporación RTVE to give up one of its multiplex, namely that which is currently occupying the HD channel of the public and other public regional channels, thus reducing the number of multiplexes currently used to broadcast channels TV in Spain via DTT from ten to seven.

Industry sources point that this is only a proposal and that all stakeholders are still negotiating, but the fact is that the Spanish Government has set a deadline of 1 January 2014 as when it would like to have the frequencies necessary to launch the 4G services.

The move will likely mean retuning of DTT channels at about 1.4 million buildings. The previous Spanish Government had undertaken to bear the costs of this retuning, estimated at around €800 million. However the current government has warned that such a sum is not feasible given the current economic crisis, and that it will spend only €45 million, mostly in grants to building owners, who will have to pay the cost.