Spain: Hitch for pay-DTT

Iñaki Ferreras

Spain’s Conseil of State (a consulting organ for the government) has written a report against pay-DTT’s current regulatory framework, just before the government is due to approve the measure. While the report’s recommendations are not compulsory, they do carry weight.

Minister of Industry, Tourism and Commerce Miguel Sebastián is due to go ahead with the order allowing the establishment of DTT in government council this Thursday.

The fact is within the government there are different opinions whether pay-DTT should be carried out one way or another. In fact a month ago the government presented a project law for an Audiovisual General Law which will be studied by Parliament in the near future. With the law, the government hopes to bring together all of the current audiovisual laws.

As part of this project there is legislation for pay-DTT as one of the new ways of watching television. But some members of the government fear that the courts could turn this project down following the Conseil of State's report.

Some sector sources say the Minister is trying to make too many concessions to the manufacturers of receivers and especially to laSexta's operator Mediapro because it wants to commercialize as soon as possible its new pay-TV soccer channel Gol TV on pay-DTT.

But there is another problem with the proposed platform: the lack of pay DTT boxes. Latest studies on this subject say only 2% out of the 18 million DTT boxes sold in the last few years are really prepared to get conditional access DTT signals.

Some of Spain's pay TV operators such as Ono and Sogecable's Canal+ are not opposed to pay-DTT but at the same time they consider if it was approved right now this would be illegal since it would alter the rules of this sector. There is no reason for urgency, the opponents say.