Spanish DTT conflict escalates

November 14, 2013 11.00 Europe/London By Robert Briel

spain_glow1The Spanish government has said that it will take away the licences of nine DTT channels. Another eight channels are in danger of losing their digital terrestrial distribution.

The broadcasters are victim of the ‘digial divided’ as the available spectrum will be made available to mobile operators.

The announcement by José Manuel Soria, minister of industry, has sparked protest from all broadcasters involved who are about to lose nationwide distribution of their FTA channels.

The decision stems from a ruling by the Spanish High Court, which deemed the issuing of the licences in 2010 illegal.

The broadcasters involved are the group Atresmedia, that stands to lose three of its seven DTT channels, Mediaset (who will lose Nueve and LaSiete), while Net TV (Vocento) and Veo TV (Unedisa) will each lose two channels. The channels will have to give up terrestrial distribution, but can continue broadcasting on other platforms, including DTH, cable and IPTV.

Behind closed doors, the government and broadcasters have been talking about a possible solution during the past few months, but no agreement was reached. Talks have now ended and the minister is now moving ahead to make the spectrum available to the mobile operators.

With the public announcement by Soria the issue has now come out into the open. Meanwhile, the debate is heating up, with some of the parties claiming the decision is politically motivated and that the government led by Mariano Rajoy Brey of the People’s Party is eliminating broadcasters that support the opposition.