Norway keeps single DTT pay concession

By Julian Clover

Norges Televisjon (NTV) has said it is relieved that the ministry of culture and church affairs has agreed to vary the terms of its licence, reversing the requirement to hold back capacity for a second pay-TV operator on the terrestrial network.

“The terrestrial network is now facing a less risky future and the 15% of the population that is dependent on the terrestrial network to watch TV have their access assured,” said Svein R Aarvik, CEO, NTV.
While NTV is responsible for the digital terrestrial network, including the delivery of public broadcaster NRK, its sister company Riks TV handles the pay-TV elements. Both are owned by a consortium of NRK, the commercial channel TV2 and telco and transmission company Telenor.

NTV first applied to the ministry of culture in October 2008, arguing there was already competition between operators. Subsequently the Norwegian government agreed that there was a risk that the terrestrial network might be weakened as a platform if the licence was left unchanged.

In a statement, the ministry acknowledged that for many thousands of households in western and northern Norway the terrestrial network is the only option. In addition to providing pay-TV services, the ministry said it was important to the public broadcaster NRK that the terrestrial platform was not marginalised.

According to the ministry there is already evidence that increased competition between platforms has been brought about by the introduction of the terrestrial pay platform, operated by NTV’s sister company, Riks TV. “If one weakens the basis for pay television in the terrestrial network, it could have negative consequences for competition between platforms,” said the ministry.

Once analogue switch off has been completed, Multiplex 4 and Multiplex 5 will launch in the summer of 2010. It was within the two new multiplexes that capacity was to have been reserved.