Bulgaria Govt Slams EU Trial over DTT Mux Deals

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | September 18, 2013, Wednesday // 20:56
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Govt Slams EU Trial over DTT Mux Deals The European Commission has taken Bulgaria to court for not ensuring open and non-discriminatory access to digital terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure market. File photo

Bulgaria’s Socialist-backed government has harshly criticized the European Commission for taking the country to the EU's Court of Justice over the assignment of digital broadcast spectrum.

Bulgaria failed to escape EU court over the controversial tenders for the operation of what will be the country's DTT multiplexes and on August 9 the court practically launched legal proceedings.

The government however claims that in building its case Brussels’ arguments are “unclear, incorrect and inconsistent”.

The country will insist that the EU court rules in Bulgaria’s favor, an official statement of the cabinet press office said on Wednesday.

The statement comes nine 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 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 EUR 8448 per day.

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Tags: Hannu Pro, Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), Bromak, Communications Regulation Commission, European Commission, Oesterreichischer Rundfunksender, Competition Protection Commission, DTT, multiplexes, Brussels, Oesterreichischer Rundfunksender, ORS, Bulgaria, Court of Justice, EU, Towercom

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