DigiTAG seeks to inform members and non-members about important developments in the digital terrestrial television market. Each month, DigiTAG distributes its web letter with news updates and further exploration of one topic.
To subscribe to the DigiTAG Web Letter, send an email to the DigiTAG Project Office.
DTT services in Albania & Macedonia
The planning and implementation of DTT services is underway in both Albania and Macedonia. In Albania, a successful pay-DTT platform has already been launched while in Macedonia, the government has put together plans to invite operators to tender for up to four DTT multiplexes.
Yet despite these activities, the roll-out of DTT services will likely face some difficulties in the coming years in both countries given the ongoing political wrangling and weak public service broadcasters.
DTT services in Albania
Albania possesses a chaotic broadcast environment. Endemic problems include financial opacity, questionable editorial independence, and political control over the media regulator.
Viewers can access television services from two satellite and 44 cable operators. The free-to-air analogue terrestrial platform offers viewers four national channels, two from the public service broadcaster, TV Shqiptar 1 and TV Shqiptar 2, and two from commercial broadcasters, TV Klan and Top Channel. The latter claims to have a 70% audience share. Further services had been available until 2007 when the broadcast regulator, the National Council of Radio Television (KKRT, Këshilli Kombëtar i Radio dhe Televizionit), took measures to stop the illegal transmission of some services with the aim of making frequencies available for the launch of DTT services.
Since 15 July 2004, pay-DTT services have been available from DigitAlb, part of the Topmedia Group which also owns the broadcaster Top Channel. DigitAlb launched DTT services in the western part of the country offering up to 35 pay television services across four multiplexes. Since then, DigitAlb claims a full national coverage with well over 120,000 subscribers for its satellite and DTT services. In addition, it has offered mobile television services using the DVB-H standard since 2007.
However, these DTT services operate outside of the current legal framework for broadcast services which was adopted by the Parliament in May 2007. As part of this framework, the KKRT is empowered to allocate DTT licenses although it has yet to do so. Licenses will be allocated for national services, with a minimum coverage of 80% of the territory, for regional services, covering four of Albania’s 12 administrative units, or for local services, covering one administrative unit.
The legal framework allows for the launch of up to seven national DTT multiplexes, two of which are reserved for the public service broadcaster. No single service operator can manage more than one national multiplex and at least 50% of its services must be offered free-to-air.
While the date for analogue switch-off is not set, broadcasters must provide the simulcast of their services on the analogue and digital terrestrial platforms until the penetration of DTT services has reached 90% of the population. This could take many years depending on the speed at which viewers purchase DTT receivers.
While DigitAlb would like to bring its DTT service within a legal framework, current DTT legislation is unable to authorize its activity given that DigitAlb operates more than one national DTT multiplex and does not offer any free-to-air content. Provisions for DigitAlb to conform to the DTT legislation are unlikely as it would require a reduction in its service offering which would impact its business model and subscriber base.
Given that no other companies have shown an interest in entering the DTT market and the public service broadcaster’s inadequate funding does not allow it to launch an alternative DTT platform, the status quo will likely remain for some time.
DTT services in Macedonia
Five broadcasters provide nationwide services on the analogue terrestrial platform in addition to the 11 regional broadcasters and 36 local broadcasters. The commercial broadcasters (A1 TV, Kanal 5, and Sitel TV) dominate the market and account for more that 95% of the advertising revenue. The public service broadcaster, Macedonian Radio and Television (MRT, Makedonska radio-televizija) operates three channels but has limited audience appeal and suffers from financial instability. Both satellite and cable services are also available.
The broadcast regulatory framework has undergone significant change in recent years following the adoption of new laws on electronic communications and broadcasting. These laws have helped to restructure the two key regulating bodies, the Broadcasting Council and the Agency for Electronic Communications (AEK, Agencija za elektronski komunikacii) and increase their independence from the government. New legislation has since been introduced with the aim of merging the Broadcasting Council and the AEK and privatising the broadcast network operator, Macedonian Broadcasting (MRD, Makedonska Radiodifuzija).
In November 2007, the Broadcasting Council adopted its Strategy for the Development of Broadcasting for the period 2007-2012 which includes its plans for digitalisation. However, the government rejected this strategic plan in early 2008, claiming that it clashed with its policies on communications.
Despite the lack of agreement with the regulatory authorities and without the necessary legal framework defined, the government decided nonetheless that it would invite candidates to tender for the DTT multiplexes in 2008. Services will include the simulcast of all existing broadcast services on the analogue terrestrial platform and must be available to at least 80% of the population.
The DTT platform is expected to provide services across four multiplexes at the time of launch with one multiplex reserved for the broadcast network operator MRD for the transmission of services from the public service broadcaster MRT. However, it will be difficult for MRT to launch DTT services given its current financial situation which does not allow for sufficient funding of new media technologies or services. Despite these difficulties, the MRT has set up a special expert group on digitalisation in March 2007. The role of the MRT on the DTT platform is also a topic of consideration for the Broadcasting Council’s national advisory committee on digitalisation.
It is expected that the three remaining multiplexes will be allocated
to the Slovenian telecom operator On.net which is currently conducting
a DVB-T trial in the capital city Skopje. Already, On.net has announced
its readiness to invest €30 million to develop the DTT network
across the country and has submitted its project plans to the Ministry
of Transportation. DTT trials have also been conducted by MRD.
Source: Natalie Mouyal, DigiTAG Project Office
DigiTAG aims to encourage and facilitate the implementation and introduction of digital terrestrial television services using the Digital Video Broadcasting Project's Standard (DVB-T). It has some 60 members from broadcasting, network operators, regulatory, and manufacturing organisations throughout Europe and beyond.
Visit the DigiTAG website
Please contact the DigiTAG office if you have any news that you would like to include in the next DigiTAG Web Letter.
To unsubscribe from the DigiTAG Web Letter, please click here and put 'UNSUBSCRIBE' in the subject title of your email.
DTT NEWS ROUND-UP
For access to the full articles archive, please go to DigiTAG News
Hungary - DTT services to launch by end of year
The broadcast network operator Antenna Hungaria has been allocated a license to operate 5 DTT multiplexes, of which two will only become available following analogue switch-off in 2011.
Services are expected to launch by the end of the year and will cover 59% of the country.
One multiplex is reserved for DVB-H services which will cover 16% of the country at the time of its launch later this year.
The MPEG-4 AVC compression format will be used.
Source: NHH website
Slovakia - Tender opened for two DTT multiplexes
The Telecom Office (TU SR) is inviting candidates to tender for licenses to operate two DVB-T multiplexes.
The first multiplex is expected to provide a simulcast of the existing analogue terrestrial platform.
Analogue switch-off is expected to be completed by 2012.
Source: Telecom Office website
United Kingdom - Two applicants for HD/DTT services
Ofcom has received applications from Channel 3 (ITV) and Channel Four for licenses to broadcast television services on Multiplex B. An additional slot on Multiplex B has already been reserved for the BBC.
License holders will be able to provide HD services using the MPEG-4 AVC compression format and the DVB-T2 modulation standard.
Services will be launched region-by-region based on the digital switchover timetable and starting at the end of 2009.
Source: Ofcom website
Slovenia - Invitation to tender for MUX B opened
The communications regulator APEK is inviting candidates to tender for a license to operate the DTT multiplex B. Candidates must submit their applications by 25 August.
Multiplex B will provide national coverage with a minimum of coverage of 50% of the population by 1 June 2009 and 70% of the population by 1 June 2010.
Multiplex A currently provides the services of the public service broadcaster
RTV SLO using the MPEG-4 AVC compression format.
Source: APEK website
South Africa - Government to spend over R3 billion for DSO
The government is expected to spend well over R3 billion (€260 million) to help with digital switchover. Funding will be made available for network upgrades and subsidies for low income households.
Approximately, R800 million (€69 million) will be given to the broadcast network operator Sentech to upgrade the transmission network.
In addition, a total of R2.45 billion (€210 million) will be made available in subsidies to help low-income households purchase DTT receivers.
The government plans to raise part of these funds by increasing the tax on the revenue of telecom operators from 0.02% to 0.1%.
Source: IT Web
France - 92% coverage by end of 2009
The broadcast regulator Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) has announced the 71 regions where DTT services will be launched in the first half of 2009.
It is expected that by the end of 2009, 92% of the population will be able to access DTT services. Coverage will reach 89% of the population by the end of 2008.
The analogue switch-off timetable is expected to be published in the next few weeks, following the approval of the Prime Minister.
Source: CSA website