Astra to report Spanish gov't

Satellite operator SES Astra will report Spain’s government to the European Commission, alleging it favours Abertis Telecom, rival Hispasat's main shareholder, so damaging Astra’s interests in this market.

Astra’s move is because the Spanish regional government of Cantabria has cancelled the contract it signed with the operator to extend DTT coverage across the whole country.

The case will be reported to the Competitiviness General Office of Brussels with which the company has foreseen a technical meeting by the end of this month or the beginning of December. Astra hopes Brussels opens a file and consequently that Spain's central government will have to account for it’s actions.

In September Spain's government summoned all the autonomous regions in order to find a collective solution to distribute DTT on satellite for those difficult areas in the terrestrial reception. Astra says that is the reason the Cantabrian regional government canceled its contract with Astra.

Spain’s government wants to give the different licences for DTT satellite distribution to the regional governments for free and Astra claims this is a treatment favouring Hispasat. Abertis Telecom's stake in Hispasat is 33.4%.

Astra Spain has already reported the Castilla y León decision which it says was for the same reason as Cantabria's. In addition to this Astra has sent a formal letter to the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce reminding it that the Universal DTT project, coordinated by Hispasat and evaluating the possibility of creating a satellite platform in order to extend DTT coverage to 100% of Spain's population, was granted got E198.537 million at the beginning of this year.

This goes obviously in favour of Hispasat and in Astra's point of view damages the competitiviness in this market. That's why Astra askes for transparency in the public finances being granted to the complementary satellite solution.

Astra is also highlighting that in Cantabria it won the public licence before Abertis Telecom and Telefónica, a licence now individually broken by Cantabria's government in an illegal way according to Astra.

Astra also claims that the Cantabrian government has been under pressure from the central government to draw back from its original decision.

Finally Astra Spain has also taken its formal complaint to the Telecommunication Market Commission (CMT), the association regulating the telecommunications market, because in some autonomous regions 100% satellite coverage of DTT will be needed and the operator doesn't want to lose this nice piece of cake.