Spain approves pay digital TV

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Television channels can soon charge viewers who want more options for digital terrestrial programming.

Madrid – Spain's government Thursday agreed to allow television channels to charge viewers for digital terrestrial programming, a move it said would "establish a level playing field" in the industry.

"DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) will open up new avenues of funding for television and also new possibilities and options for viewers," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said following a cabinet meeting.

The main beneficiary is likely to be the Mediapro group, which owns La Sexta the terrestrial channel and which has secured broadcast rights for some Spanish football matches and Formula One racing.

Its rival Prisa, which currently holds a monopoly on pay TV through its satellite network Digital+, is likely to suffer.

Prisa announced last week that negotiations with Mediapro affiliate Imagina on the merger of their television operations had broken down.

De la Vega denied that approval was timed to coincide with the start of the football season this month.

"This is a step forward for technical and economic reasons and not for this (football) competition," she said.

Payment for DTT "represents a viable alternative income to private operators which can help them overcome the unfavourable economic situation."

Spain is to switch from a traditional analogue broadcast system to DTT by April 2010.

AFP / Expatica


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