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Spanish compensation scheme to free the digital dividend under state aid scrutiny

 |  April 25, 2012

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into a Spanish scheme compensating digital terrestrial broadcasters’ extra costs of parallel broadcasting. Since Spain uses the 800 MHz band (also known as the digital dividend) for broadcasting, the broadcasting must be reallocated to another frequency to free the digital dividend. Broadcasters must broadcast simultaneously on both frequencies (parallel broadcasting) to ensure that television services continue to be provided during the digital switchover. Such parallel broadcasting results in extra costs, for which Spain has provided compensation.

The Commission has recognized that freeing the digital dividend benefits electronic communication services, but questions whether the measure of compensating parallel broadcasting is proportionate and necessary. The Member State has the burden of showing that the aid is “well tailored, limited to the necessary amount and does not unduly distort competition.” Moreover, state support should not discriminate against technologies, but the Commission is concerned that the Spanish compensation scheme favors terrestrial broadcasters. 

The Commission separately approved aid to enable multi-household buildings to continue receiving free-to-air TV channels after the frequencies have been reallocated.

Full content: EC Press Release


Related contentNetwork Neutrality & Antitrust (Kevin Coates, European Commission, DG Competition)


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