Presidência do Conselho de Ministros (Presidency of the Council of Ministers)
Resolution of the Council of Ministers
(This is not an official translation of the law)
One of the targets emphasised in Programme of the XXI Constitutional Government, in the scope of fundamental freedoms and guarantees which the State is required to ensure, is the expansion of the provision of digital terrestrial television programme services, particularly, but not exclusively, by allowing full free-to-air access to all public service channels of national scope.
Unlike the rest of Europe, levels of provision of content in the digital terrestrial television are absolutely residual in Portugal, far from what the invested technological potential would allow, a precious tool for the reinforcement of citizenship, the democratisation of access to audiovisual contents, cultural and informative dissemination and the encouragement to the audiovisual industry being thus wasted.
The offer of digital television programmes available today in the terrestrial platform is almost the same as the one that resulted from the analogue platform, and the persistence of this situation must be urgently reversed, in the light of criteria of social development and in the framework of the process of available technological development.
The current state of the digital terrestrial television in terms of provision of content is mainly due, among the several mishaps which occurred in the process of implementation of the digital terrestrial television, to the failure of the so-called 5th channel and of the shared HDTV channel, which were to operate by the switch-off of the analogue television broadcasting, and for which space was reserved in Multiplexer A, through Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 12/2008, of 22 January, specifically paragraphs 1 and 3 thereof. Such space was never used and even now remains unused.
Taking into consideration that nothing has been done over the last few years to counter this situation, and that occupying the remaining space instead of leaving it unused does not affect the future development of the digital terrestrial television, the redefinition of capacity reservation formerly determined is urgently required, so that better use is made of the capacity of Multiplexer A, bearing in mind the interest of populations, which so far have hardly benefited from the transition from an analogue system to a digital one.
As regards the possibility of opting for the transmission of contents over HDTV, aiming at a better use of space in Multiplexer A, it must be stressed that, in case the three programme service operators broadcasting today on the network broadcasted over this provision, the space in Multiplexer A would not be enough to maintain the already low provision of content which exists today, as no space would remain even for the inclusion of Canal Parlamento, thus further reducing the offer of programme services.
Given that it is not technically possible to accommodate in Multiplexer A all channels that benefit from HDTV “must carry” rules, and bearing in mind that the principle of equality would confer the same right on all of them, a continuous HDTV broadcasting of the referred programme services would necessarily require the assignment of more spectrum for a new Multiplexer, which at the moment does not seem feasible.
As such, after studies and tests on network capacity were performed by the distribution operator in charge of the selection and aggregation of programme services, it was found that the capacity in Multiplexer A currently allows nine programme services in Standard Definition Television (SDTV), in compliance with technical standards defined in the public tender for the use of frequencies of a national scope for the digital terrestrial television broadcasting service, as well as contracts on technical requirements between the network operator and television operators already broadcasting on the digital terrestrial television.
In view of the limited supply of contents available today, there is now the possibility of assigning four new programme services, and according to the Government’s option, these new four programme services are to be shared between the public service operator and private operators, so as to ensure not only greater amount of contents but also a wider range of programmes. Having RTP been heard, RTP3 and RTP Memoria programme services are included, with no television advertising.
Under point g) of article 199 of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers hereby resolves:
1 - To acknowledge that the purpose of capacity reservation related to the television programmes service with free-to-air unrestricted access, provided for in paragraph 1 of Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 12/2008, of 22 January, is useless and unnecessary, thus the discontinuation of the reservation is hereby determined.
2 - To acknowledge that the purpose of capacity reservation for the broadcast, in non-simultaneous mode of high definition transmissions of programme services distributed in Multiplexer A, provided for in paragraph 3 of Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 12/2008, of 22 January, is useless and unnecessary, thus the discontinuation of the reservation is hereby determined.
3 - To determine the reservation of capacity in Multiplexer A as required for two television programme services in SDTV definition, so as to allow RTP to immediately launch the steps required for the provision in the digital terrestrial television broadcasting service of RTP3 and RTP Memória, programme services of the public service of national scope, bearing in mind that “the public television service shall uphold the principles of universality and national cohesion”, as laid down in Law No. 27/2007, of 30 July, in its current wording.
4 - To replace advertising slots for cultural promotion and dissemination slots, given that the extension of this offer must not jeopardize the sustainability of offers ensured by private television operators, in the broadcasting of RTP3 and RTP Memória in the digital terrestrial television network.
5 - To determine the reservation of capacity in Multiplexer A as required for two television programme services in SDTV definition, so as to allow the opening of a public tender for the award of a license for two more unrestricted free-to-air television programme services, under Law No. 27/2007, of 30 July, as it currently stands.
Presidency of the Council of Ministers, 23 June 2016. - The Prime-Minister, António Luís Santos da Costa