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Czechs delay digital switchover

Analog to remain until 2012

PRAGUE — The Czech cabinet has approved a compromise on digital television that would give the leading terrestrial, TV Nova, more time to ramp up, while allowing the pubcaster Czech TV to hold onto ad revenue for another year.

The government of Prime Minister Miroslav Topolanak has signed off on the amendment to the digitalization bill, which now goes before parliament. The deputies will decide in autumn whether to pass the amendment, which extends the switch-off of analog broadcasting to as late as 2012.

TV Nova had been decrying a state proposal to speed up the changeover, arguing they cannot switch technologies so fast without the approval of the board members of parent company Central European Media Enterprises. Competitors have countered that TV Nova simply wants to maintain its market domination by controlling when the changeover happens.

If passed by parliament, several stations could switch to digital broadcasting in spring 2008. The amendment would also allow Czech TV, which was originally to lose its ad revenue next year, to continue competing with TV Nova and Prima TV for private coin.

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