Bulgaria Govt Drags Its Feet over Mux EU Trial
Eight months after Brussels referred Bulgaria to the EU court over the controversial tenders for the operation of what will be the country's DTT multiplexes, the country still has no official position.
This emerged at a press conference by the transport ministry on Thursday, where officials admitted they can’t say when Bulgaria’s official position will be ready and presented to the European Commission.
The European Commission announced on January 24 this year that it has decided to refer Bulgaria to the EU's Court of Justice over the assignment of digital broadcast spectrum.
The Commission found that the procedure followed by Bulgaria was based on disproportionately restrictive award conditions, leading to the exclusion of potential candidates.
This hampers competition in the future Bulgarian digital terrestrial television (DTT) infrastructure market, in breach of the applicable EU Directives on electronic communication, the European Commission said in an official statement.
The efficient reallocation of radiospectrum as a result of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting (the 'digital dividend') is part of the EU’s policy objectives under the Digital Agenda.
"In order to ensure that this process leads to the entry of new players capable of enhancing competition in the market and expanding viewer choice, the Commission has adopted a set of rules for the allocation of this extra spectrum capacity. These rules require that spectrum is allocated under open, transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria."
The Commission considers that Bulgaria did not comply with these requirements of the mentioned Directives when it assigned in 2009 five DTT broadcasting spectrum lots via two contest procedures, limiting without justification the number of companies that could potentially enter the market.
Moreover, it said, the selection criteria of the contest procedures were disproportionate, refusing applicants that had links with content providers (TV channels operators), including operators active only outside Bulgaria, or with broadcasting network operators, in breach of the three directives.
Should the judges at Luxembourg court rule against Bulgaria, the country may be forced to pay hefty fines, worth up to EUR 200.000 per day.
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