Presidência do Conselho de Ministros (Presidency of the Council of Ministers)
The introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT) in Portugal constitutes one of the objectives set out in the Programme of the XVII Constitutional Government, aiming, specifically, for equality of access to digital television transmissions by citizens irrespective of their social standing or territorial location.
Furthermore, it is important to emphasise the potential for expanding and consolidating the knowledge society, associated with the installation of DTT and also the decisive contribution that this can make to the creation of favourable conditions for the emergence of new corporate opportunities and wealth creation.
In this context, a public consultation was held on the instruments necessary for the development of DTT operation, covering, in particular, the draft decisions on the limitation of the number of frequency usage rights reserved for digital terrestrial television broadcasting and the definition of the respective allocation procedure, and also on the regulation governing the public tender for the allocation of a right of frequency usage on a national basis for the service of digital terrestrial television broadcasting, which will be associated with the Multiplexer A.
Among the wide range of issues up for public debate, there are the possible solutions for making use of the remaining capacity in Multiplexer A - with fulfilment of the obligations legally set forth in respect of the reservation of capacity for the services of programmes currently broadcast in analogue mode -, in respect of which the Government intends to collect comments and bases, in view of the technical possibilities and constraints, as well as the state of the publicity market in the audiovisual sector.
In the background note to the public consultation, there is an explanation of how the remaining capacity might allow, in view of the current development of technology, support of one of two alternative platforms:
Up to three (two in the Autonomous Regions) other television programmes services in standard definition (SDTV) in similar conditions;
One television programmes service in high definition (HDTV).
In view of the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and the private economy initiative, with analysis of the general interest and considering that:
The policy decision in respect of the reservation of surplus capacity of the Multiplexer A should be taken prior to the opening of the public tender for the allocation of a right of frequency usage on a national basis for the service of digital terrestrial television broadcasting, which will be associated with that Multiplexer;
The strategic importance of a rapid transition to digital, in view of the need to meet the communitary guidelines on the closure of the analogue television broadcasting system in 2012, determines that the chosen option provide decisive stimulus to the voluntary migration by citizens;
The diversification of the television offer can act as an important catalyst to the process of voluntary migration, responding positively to the expectations of market access manifested during the public consultation;
High definition transmission (HDTV) might constitute a further factor in the differentiation of DTT, through increased sound and image quality over the current analogue system, creating a new experience in television reception and giving impetus to migration and also echoing the aspirations put forward, during the public hearing, by the licensed television operators;
The constraints of the spectrum will remain until the closure of analogue television broadcasting, while subsequently continuous high definition transmission of the programme services of licensed and concessionaire operators might be possible;
The adoption of high definition with a platform of free access will allow discrimination to be avoided in respect of access to these transmissions by citizens who, by choice or as a result of socio-economic restrictions, do not have access to other television distribution networks.
Under the terms of point g) of article 199 of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers resolves:
1 - To determine the reservation of capacity in the Multiplexer A for a new television programmes service with unconditional free access.
2 - To define that the opening of a public tender for the allocation of the licence of the new television programmes service with unconditional free access shall take place when the applicable legal conditions are met and within a period not exceeding 180 days following the public act of the tender for the allocation of a right of frequency usage on a national basis for the service of digital terrestrial television broadcasting, which will be associated with Multiplexer A.
3 - Determine to reserve capacity for the broadcast, in non-simultaneous mode until the closure of analogue television broadcasting, of high definition transmissions of programme services distributed in Multiplexer A, provided that technical conditions allow.
4 - Determine that, without prejudice to the obligations underlying the public tender for the allocation of a right of frequency usage on a national basis for the service of digital terrestrial television broadcasting, which will be associated with Multiplexer A, and to the provisions of the above points, the holder of said usage right may assign the remaining capacity to other electronic communication services, under the terms of applicable legislation.
Presidency of the Council of Ministers, 3 January 2008. - The Prime Minister, José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa.