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Portugal sets digital TV regulations

Licenses go out to tender before end of 2007

LISBON — Portugal is a step closer to launching digital terrestrial television.

On Tuesday, the government unveiled the regulations covering two DTV tenders, which are now out for 30 days of public consultation.

The first will award a license for a single platform intended exclusively to broadcast free-to-air channels, including present nets RTP1, RTP2, SIC and TVI and up to six new ones.

The second tender will award two licenses: one for a platform carrying two national and three regional webs and a separate TV distribution license to be awarded to an operator to provide a bouquet of pay channels.

The licenses will go out to tender before the end of the year.

The main hurdle to the success of a commercial DTV platform in Portugal is the strength of the dominant cable and satellite operator, PT Multimedia, that reps over 80% of the market and already offers a digital service.

The last attempt to launch a DTV platform failed in 2003, after the licensed operator PTDP pulled out, primarily due to concerns that it would not achieve commercial viability.

Groups that have their eyes on the DTV platform include Sonaecom (which has already launched an IPTV service in Portugal), Controlinveste (which partly owns the lucrative Sport TV franchises), Media Capital (owned by Spain’s Prisa), Impresa and Cofina.

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