Portugal to licence fifth free channel

Portuguese authorities have called a new bid for a fifth national free-to-air TV channel broadcasting 24 hours a day. Candidates have until January 21 to make their formal offerings.

Up until now, Portuguese companies Cofina, Controlinveste (Sport TV channel's owner) and Zon Multimedia (former PT Multimedia and owner of the main cable operator in the country) have shown interest in a new channel. According to Portuguese audiovisual market sources, it is likely that some of these companies could create a consortium in order to present a stronger offering.

The Social Communication Regulating Society will evaluate the different offerings by taking into account the diversified offering and the broadcasting of independent programs in the Portuguese language. The Society will also demand the new channel's owners guarantee defence of its independence from economic and political powers.

At present there are four Portuguese in-the-clear channels, two from public broadcaster Radio Televisión Portuguesa (RTP) and two other private ones - Impresa's SIC and Spanish media group Prisa's TVI.