Italy plans five digital networks

By Julian Clover

The Italian regulator Agcom has announced plans for five new digital TV networks to be made available once analogue switch-off completes in 2012.

The capacity has been created by switching the existing eight single frequency channels to statistical multiplexing. Existing national operators will also have sufficient bandwidth for high definition transmissions.

Three of the networks on offer will be reserved for new entrants to the market in a process drawn up in consultation with the European Commission. It means that Mediaset, controlled by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and which already operates three national networks, will only be able to apply for two of the new networks.

The Commission has said it will closely monitor the licensing, following an existing infringement case over the 2004 Gasparri Law, which permitted only holders of analogue licences to apply for digital permissions.