Spain's govt to approve pay DTT on Thursday

Iñaki Ferreras

Five months after indicating it would do so, Spain’s goverment will approve payment over DTT this coming Thursday.

Approval was to have been granted at the end of July but was postponed due to terrorist attacks by Basque separatists Eta, according to official sources.

Regulating payment over DTT means the end of the monopoly of media group Prisa-Sogecable in this field as any broadcaster will be able to offer this service. Most terrestrial broadcasters have asked the government for a licence to do so.

This law also hits Sogecable's satellite pay-TV operator Digital+ strongly in its soccer channel Canal+ Liga’s jostle for position with Mediapro's Gol TV. Over the last few weeks Sogecable has launched a widespread advertising campaign for Canal+ Liga to try to ensure it benefits from the €700 million Sogecable has paid to Mediapro for televised rights.

Sogecable's executives have been putting pressure on the goverment to delay the launch of this new law at least until next year so they have time to settle down Canal+ Liga. But the government considers the new law essential in order to make the final push to DTT before national analogue switch-off in April next year. That is why the government hasn't waited for the General Audiovisual Law to launch the law of payment over DTT.

Spain’s General Audiovisual Law will cover all aspects of the country's audiovisual business and is forecast to be ready before the end of this year.

For now, the main goal is the pay DTT boxes that have to be ready in the shops. In the spring, Mediapro announced it would put some 400,000 of these boxes in the shops by this summer but this is yet to be seen.