Law will kickstart digital TV in Spain

Limit dropped on analog channels

MADRID — The Spanish Congress approved a digital terrestrial television development law to kickstart DTT in Spain.

Legislation, passed Thursday, kills the cap on the number of nationwide analog channels.

The conservative opposition has lambasted the move, claiming it plays into the hands of the socialist-friendly pay TV giant Sogecable, which has applied for governmental permission to transform its analog paybox, Canal Plus, into a free-to-air service.

However, its claims are misdirected: Canal Plus already has an analog license. To transform into a free TV service, Sogecable needs a new operating contract for the paybox, not a new analog franchise.

The DTT legislation does, however, bring major changes in Spain’s TV landscape.

Spain’s analog switch-off has been brought forward from 2012 to 2010, with local TV channels due to switch off in 2008.

The 14-channel digital spectrum freed up by the closure of DTT paybox Quiero TV in 2002 will be divvied up among established TV stations and new operators after a study of spectrum availability. Spain’s regional governments will be able to grant DTT licenses.

The law also liberalizes the cable TV sector, allowing operators to broadcast outside their allotted zones.

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