Bulgaria plans to ask the European Commission for a delay in the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ) lawsuit over the assignment of the digital broadcast spectrum, the country’s caretaker Transport Minister Kristian Krustev said on March 21.
In January, the EC said that it had found that the procedure followed by Bulgaria was based on disproportionately restrictive award conditions, leading to the exclusion of potential candidates, referring Bulgaria to the ECJ, the last stage of the EU infringement proceedings.
The European Commission said at that time that the tenders called by Bulgarian authorities hampered competition in the future Bulgarian digital terrestrial television (DTT) infrastructure market, in breach of the applicable EU Directives on electronic communications.
Krustev said that he has already met with representatives of Bulgaria’s telecom regulator since taking office last week, but it was an issue that required concerted efforts by the entire cabinet, not just his ministry.
The postponement was necessary for the new Bulgarian cabinet to assess the situation and draft a position on the issue.
Bulgaria’s digital switchover process has been beset by controversy from the start, with the previous socialist-led tripartite cabinet accused in 2009 of attempting to rig the process to favour specific bidders in the tenders to build digital multiplexes – the facilities where multiple channels are compressed to fit in one broadcast frequency.
The constitutional court declared the tenders unconstitutional, but the ruling came too late to cancel the tenders and the court does not have the power to annul the tenders.
A tender for a seventh multiplex was due to be held last week, but it is unclear whether it was held as scheduled.
(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)