With the culmination of the public consultation process in 2007, by Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 12/2008 of 22 January, the Government stressed the strategic importance of a rapid transition to digital, given the need to comply with community guidelines on the switch off of the analogue television broadcasting system in 2012. Furthermore, the form of use was established for the remaining capacity of Multiplexer A, associated with the frequency usage right, reserved for digital terrestrial television broadcasting service in the NFAP, corresponding to one coverage on a national basis, and for the transmission of television programme services of free, unrestricted access.
Accordingly, conditions were created for ICP-ANACOM to undertake the actions necessary for the allocation of frequency usage rights reserved for the digital terrestrial television broadcasting service.
In this context, by determination of 30 January 2008, ICP-ANACOM adopted a decision on limiting the number of frequency usage rights reserved for digital terrestrial television broadcasting and defining the respective allocation procedure, previously subject to public consultation.
Following this decision the number of frequency usage rights reserved for the digital terrestrial television broadcasting services was limited, as identified in NFAP, to support two operations, as follows:
- One right to use frequencies corresponding to coverage on a national basis, associated with Multiplexer A, and for the transmission of television programme services of free, unrestricted access;
- Five rights to use frequencies to be allocated to a single entity, corresponding to two with coverage on a national basis, associated with multiplexers B and C, and three with part national coverage of the mainland territory, associated with multiplexers D, E and F, for the transmission of television programme services of unrestricted access with subscription or restricted access.
In the same decision it was further established that the procedure for granting the right to use frequencies, associated with Multiplexer A, would be by public tender.
Subsequently, ICP-ANACOM approved the regulation of the public tender for the allocation of a right to use frequencies on a national basis for the digital terrestrial television broadcasting service (Multiplexer A) - ICP-ANACOM Regulation no 95-A/2008 of 25 February - and the respective tender specifications, and the report on the consultation held on the draft regulation.
Meanwhile the Government, through Administrative Rule no 207-A/2008 of 25 February, proceeded to open the tender for the award of five rights to use frequencies for the digital terrestrial television broadcasting service (multiplexers B to F) and the licensing of a distribution operator, approving the respective tender regulation, tender specification and the report on the consultation held on the draft regulation.
ICP-ANACOM, responsible for instructing both tenders, allowed the proposal of PTC regarding the tender for Multiplexer A on 24 April 2008 and, on 30 April 2008, following the favourable opinion of ERC - Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (Regulatory Authority for the Media), allowed the proposals of PTC and Airplus Television Portugal, S.A. (AirPlus) to the tender for multiplexers B to F.
On 9 December 2008, ICP-ANACOM determined to issue PTC the allocation title of the frequency usage right for the provision of the DTT service, associated with Multiplexer A.
According to the title, provision of the service should begin no later than 31 August 2009 with network deployment completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, by which time the conditions for the transition to digital and the consequent cessation of the current terrestrial analogue system will have been met.
In order to create the conditions required for the full implementation of the transition to digital it is important to encourage migration by consumers, who will need to have suitable reception facilities if they wish to access the DTT service.
Accordingly, notwithstanding, the commitments and obligations, among others, of PTC as the holder of the right to use frequencies with respect to Multiplexer A, at the end of 2008 ICP-ANACOM began to prepare its monitoring of the transition process, and in the context of its role as adviser to the Government, prepared a draft Resolution of the Council of Ministers establishing a working group to monitor the migration from analogue television to digital, published in 2009 (Resolution of the Council of Ministers no 26/2009) which established 26 April 2012 as the date for the switch-off of the analogue network.
The tender on multiplexers B to F will be concluded 2009, subsequent to a judicial process pending for some time, following an action brought by the tenderer AirPlus.