DTT Woes to Leave 1 Million Bulgarians with No Public TV Broadcasts
Between 350 thousand and 1 million people could be deprived of access to public TV broadcast due to insufficient DTT coverage throughout Bulgaria's countryside.
“After the analogue switch-off, currently set for September 30, there's a possibility that many rural areas and small villages throughout the country will be left without TV signal, because DTT coverage won't reach them”, said in an interview Veselin Bozhkov, Head of Bulgaria's Commission for Communications Regulation.
Current DTT capacity does not cover the whole territory of Bulgaria
“Legislative changes are needed in order to ensure 100% digital terrestrial tv coverage”, stressed on Bozhkov, because at the moment Bulgaria's DTT multiplexes are not legally obligated to improve their coverage capacity.
“For example, if we start with the minimum required digital coverage of 85%, the coverage should be increased gradually with time to 95.99% in order to cover the whole country, but such obligation for coverage improvement is currently not imposed on the multiplexes”, added Bozhkov.
If the government does not introduce pretty soon legal changes that make it mandatory for the multiplexes to improve their coverage, a lot of people won't be able to watch public TV after 30 September, the deadline for the analogue switch-off, unless they can afford to pay for cable, or install satellite receivers.
It is not clear at the moment which areas won't have access to digital signal, once the analogue one is switched off on September 30th. Bohzkov pointed out that he is already requested the management of the multiplexes to upload on their websites a digital signal coverage map in order to make it clear for the public where a digital signal will be available after September 30th, and where it won't be.
People on welfare living in remote areas most likely will be left without public TV after September 30th
“Poor people from remote areas that cannot afford to pay for decoder will receive one as part of their welfare payment, but still they won't be able to watch public TV after September 30th, because the digital signal won't reach them” said Bozhkov.
Despite such coverage issues, the Head of Commission for Communications Regulation says that further delays in the scheduled for the September 30th analogue switch-off are not an option, adding that “it's better to start the whole thing and adjust it later, then to postpone indefinitely”.
Bulgaria's government postponed the deadline for the analogue switch-off to September 30, previously it was set for September 1, 2013, citing delay in tenders for free DTT receivers.
Bulgaria however did not switch off analogue broadcasting of television signals by the September 1 deadline.