Spanish channels upset by new rules

Iñaki Ferreras

Spain's private and regional TV channels are worrying because of the possible negative consequences forced upon them by the switching off of analogue TV, and subsequent future sharing of the broadcast spectrum. Spain's government says they must share frequencies with telecoms operators.

From Jan 1 2015, and analogue switch off, a series of frequencies now occupied by the analogue TV channels will be destined to other services in particular mobile telephony.

Spain's association of regional channels (FORTA) says they are bothered by this because they consider that the new rules will oblige many of their members to replace their frequencies to new digital channels in the spectrum and so to abandon the band from channel 60 up. Further anxieties come from the obvious mass-changes after analogue switch off which FORTA says will require homes to reset their TV sets and decoders and even to readjust their collective antennas.

Another association, that of Spain's privately-owned stations (UTECA) says the cost of this operation will be "brutal". UTECA also considers it will be necessary to carry out dual transmission for some time in the analogue space abandoned as well as the new digital spectrum allocated. "This simultaneous broadcasting will have a double cost which the Government should allow for" UTECA says.

The "sharing" of the spectrum is a claim the telcos have been making for some time and now with the new Television Law allowing the merger of national TV channels and the tax of 0.9% for financing the lost advertising of national public broadcaster RTVE they consider they have the right for compensation.

From a technical point the new Spanish law regulates the assignment of the Spain's digital muxes after ceasing analogue broadcastings, giving place to a sub-band of frequencies from 790 to 862 MHz to other services besides television.