Net TV joins analog race in Spain

DTT operator's request follows rival start-up Veo

MADRID — And now there are three.

Start-up free-to-view digital terrestrial television (DTT) operator Net TV filed an application Friday with Spain’s industry minister Jose Montilla to broadcast in analog.

The leading shareholders in Net TV are publishing and media group Vocento and top Spanish production company the Arbol Group. Net’s request follows a similar petition Feb. 24 by rival start-up Veo TV, controlled by the Recoletos and El Mundo publishing groups.

Spanish homes have almost no DTT digital decoders permitting digital transmission, so Net and Veo have lain dormant since being granted DTT licenses in 2000 by Spain’s prior, conservative government.

Sogecable started the analog scramble Feb. 22 announcing that it was seeking permission from the government for a new private TV contract. This would allow it to relaunch a newly named analog paybox, Canal Plus Espana, extending its free-to-air transmission from six hours to 24 a day.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapetero’s Socialist government is expected to grant a contract change to Sogecable.

Veo’s application chances should not be dismissed out-of-hand. Politically progressive, Arbol Group is Spain’s most popular producer of primetime TV fiction, responsible for top-rated shows such as “The Serranos,” “Aida” and “7 Lives.”

But an analog license for Veo and Net involves complex technological, financial and, ultimately, political calculations.

A decision on Veo and Net’s petitions is not expected before the summer.

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