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EU General Court declares Spanish DTT subsidies illegal

Source: Broadband TV News - Fri 27th Nov 2015
EU General Court declares Spanish DTT subsidies illegal

The European General Court has confirmed that the Spanish measure favoured digital terrestrial technology over other possible technologies (cable, satellite, fibre), in violation of the principle of technological neutrality.

The European Commission said it welcomed these judgments, as they are important because they confirm the Commission's analysis of how member states can ensure TV coverage in line with EU law in a technologically neutral way.

In 2010, the Commission had opened an in-depth investigation into public funding granted by Spain to operators of the terrestrial television platform for the deployment of the digital terrestrial television network in remote and less urbanised areas representing around 2.5% of the territory. In June 2013, the Commission concluded that the measure selectively favoured operators of terrestrial platforms, in breach of the principle of technological neutrality and ordered Spain to recover the undue advantage from the beneficiaries.

Spain, the Basque Country/Itelazpi, Galicia and Retegal, Catalonia, Navarra and Abertis Telecom/Retevisión brought actions for annulment of the Commission's June 2013 decision. The General Court has now dismissed the appeals and entirely upheld the Commission's findings.

In 2005, Spain decided to subsidise the transition to DTT in certain remote and less urbanised areas (referred to as Area II). The public financing also included aid for the operation and maintenance of the DTT infrastructure. However, those subsidies went exclusively to operators of terrestrial transmission technology. Spain did not notify this project to the Commission.

Following a complaint from a privately owned satellite platform operator SES Astra in 2010 the Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the public financing of the DTT infrastructure.

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