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Spains second switch-off to cost 20 euros per household
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Spains second switch-off to cost 20 euros per household - 26-June-2012, 12:40

Spains second switch-off to cost 20 euros per household

Iaki Ferreras RapidTVNews | 26-06-2012

Spains National Federation of Telecommunications Installers (FENITEL) has estimated that adapting antennae for the second switchover of digital terrestrial television (DTT) will cost about 20 per household.

Miguel Angel Garca Arguelles, director of the federation, has stated that the cost may vary depending on the type of facility, state of preservation, and the channels affected in each zone.

The director has insisted that "this small investment is infinitely less" than the cost of a pay-TV service to watch the same premium content offered free via DTT, such as Formula 1 or World motorcycle racing, which can amount to at least 72 per year, about 1,440 per year per household.

He added that DTT "is the only platform that can be received without any fee or monthly subscription" and called for the release of the digital dividend not to "detract from the ability to broadcast television programmes".

He said FENITEL would keep "at least nine national and regional multiple" channels with six private national channels, a regional one, one for TVE and one on technological innovation and high definition, which can issue its present channel TVE in HD. The last proposal made by industry to private television channels included taking seven multiple channels dedicated to DTT. Currently, there are 10 multiple channels dedicated to DTT.

Now, in each manifold, four channels are broadcast in standard and high definition, which has allowed the chain to launch a broad spectrum of new channels on DTT. However, a hypothetical reduction of the airwaves dedicated to television could force the chains to close channels or waive the HD, which takes up more room.

Garca Arguelles said that the proposal of nine multiple channels was "widely shared throughout the industry, because it is realistic and balanced, representing a substantial improvement in cost, timing and use of spectrum" with respect to the initial framework plan prepared by the previous Government, which did not provide any cuts in the space dedicated to DTT and had undertaken to bear the costs of the process, about 800 million.

He also noted that there is an offensive against DTT to try to convince users that it is better to have pay-per-view, referring to the sectors that defend payment platforms as an alternative to DTT. But he argued that pay-tv is a fixed cost on family income every month of every year, which is a much larger amount compared to the one-off cost of 20 for converting an antenna.

The process by which the frequencies between 790MHz and 862 MHz (equivalent to 61 to 69 channels of UHF) will be used for DTT transmission, having been assigned to the mobile phone companies who have paid up to 1,305 million to the State for them.

As was the case in the first blackout in the move from analogue to digital, this second blackout will also require the adaptation of antennae in order for households to continue to watch all the Freeview channels. However, now the change is not about the disappearance of any technology - such as analogue - but the removal of digital channels to other frequencies.

Asked why he did not anticipate this second adaptation in order to prevent users having to pay twice, the director explained that the process of analogue blackout started in Spain in 2005; Spain did not join the agreement of European countries to clear the 'digital dividend' for mobile telephony until 2008 and the European Union has an obligation to that agreement until March 2012. Thus, the alterations carried out to antennae in the period 2005-2010 for the first analogue blackout were based on the provisions made at the beginning of the process that was planned in the late 90's in Spain.

Finally, Garca Arguelles stated that any changes to any antenna system or telecommunications facility "can only be performed by a registered telecommunications installation company," which all FENITEL member companies are.

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