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Spain set for sat bids

The Spanish Council of Ministers passed approval on final details for bidding on the first three private direct broadcast satellite channels to go up on the Hispasat bird.

Existing private networks in Spain — Canal Plus pay TV, Antena 3, and Tele Cinco — may apply for more than one channel. However, if one network were to be granted more than one channel, only one could be general programming, with the rest devoted to thematic programming.

As of the official opening day of bidding published in the state bulletin, Spanish web contenders have 40 days to present their proposals concerning thematic material and programming for the channels.

Basic bidding rules are that all interested companies must show at least $ 8. 5 million in initial capital. Spanish networks bidding may not repeat more than 30% of present programming on already existing terrestrial channels during the first year of beaming. As of the second year, this will be reduced to 15%.

No more than 10% of total programming hours may legally be devoted to commercial advertising, which is the same EC policy required of terrestrial broadcasters.

The granting of satellite licenses to Spanish nets is expected by July, which means that channels could go up by September or October.

Wild card still not accounted for is what the presence in foreign bidding for space on Hispasat transponder will be.

Also, pubcaster RTVE has been offered two DBS channels, and is expected to respond to the government this week on the acceptance and nature of the channels.

Although RTVE is expected to accept the challenge of launching the DBS channels, sources at the web express doubt as to how feasible the project is, given the web’s strapped financial situation.

Although the government has just greenlighted $ 540 million in subsidy funds for RTVE, there is no official word as to government financing of the sat project.

Regarding the two RTVE channels assigned by the government to be beamed to Latin America, one will go to the Canal Internacional currently carried by Intelsat, and the second will be a commercial (ad-supported) channel with general programming.

RTVE is studying the possibility of creating subsidiary arms to manage the new satellite channels.

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