Bulgaria issues new digital multiplex licence

Bulgaria’s Communications Regulation Commission has issued a seventh digital multiplex licence to satellite operator Bulsatcom, the regulator said on May 7.

The tender for another licence to build and operate a digital multiplex – the facilities where multiple channels are compressed to fit in one broadcast frequency – was called after the European Commission referred Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice over the assignment of the digital broadcast spectrum.

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. 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.

Bulsatcom’s addition would increase competition on the market, but it was unclear when the company could begin operating a multiplex, since the Government is yet to free the necessary broadcast spectrum, according to reports in local media.

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 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.

The multiplex licence is the latest asset in Bulsatcom’s portfolio, in addition to a mobile operator licence awarded to it in January. Bulsatcom is currently one of the largest providers on the cable and satellite TV market in the country, with an estimated market share of 35 per cent.

(Photo: Colin Brough/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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