MADRID — California-based Trinity Broadcasting Network, a U.S. Christian TV group, is bringing the word of God to Madrid, and showing the color of its money.
Entering Spain’s crisis-wracked digital terrestrial TV sector, TBN has acquired four DTT licenses for parts of the Madrid region, home to 6.3 million people, from Libertad Digital Group, owned by political pundit Federico Jimenez Losantos.
LDG announced the deal Tuesday, without releasing figures. TBN has, however, moved when Spain’s DTT market is near rock bottom.
Madrid’s DTT market has been over-saturated since birth in 2005, when regional authorities issued 38 DTT TV licenses covering either part or all of the region, often to political allies such as Jimenez Losantos.
DTT operators have also suffered from a drastic drop in Spain’s TV ad market that has plunged 48% from its 2007 pre-crisis high to Euros 1.8 billion ($2.4 billion).
The vast majority of advertising is taken by commercial broadcasting duopoly Mediaset Espana and Atresmedia (aka Antena 3 TV).
That said, it costs little for a well-capitalized TV group to run a DTT channel: Transmission fees with national grid operator Abertis are as little as $1.95 million a year, according to sources.
Many DTT webs simply do not have the capital to invest in programming — bought in or original — to grab TV ad market share in such a crowded market.
“We’re suffering the worst part of a TV ad crisis for most Spanish media. But low-cost, niche TV can take market share from established players, depending on what it programs. A low-cost TV license for a big city in Spain could turn a profit,” said analyst Eduardo Garcia Matilla.
Emiliano de Pablos in Madrid contributed to this article.