DTT: is there still a future?

Altice Portugal has until December 9 to say whether it wants to continue with the licence
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Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) debuted in Portugal in 1998, but regular broadcasts only started in 2009. After thirteen years, with controversies, lack of coverage in several areas, accusations of exploitation by communications operators and a poor grid when compared to other countries, free-to-air television may experience a new episode… and one that may not be positive

Currently, Altice Portugal is the license holder to provide the DTT service in Portugal. The licence was awarded in 2008, after a failed first attempt: the consortium “Plataforma de Televisão Digital Portuguesa” (in English “Portuguese Digital Television Platform”) (PTDP), in which RTP and SIC participated. Now the licence expiry date is approaching: it will be on 9 December 2023. And there is no certainty whether MEO ‘s owner will want to renew the licence

December is the month of the decision

According to Diário de Notícias, the law states that it is the operator that has to show interest in renewing the licence “at least one year in advance”. In other words, until next December 9th. And three years ago, the company publicly expressed its wish not to renew the licence: “The non-renewal of the licence after 2023 is being considered by Altice Portugal, being however the most likely scenario, bearing in mind the legal uncertainty and the breakdown of regulatory confidence that have marked the DTT project, waiting for the competent entities to act in time, realising how much the regulator is harming the country”, referred an official source from Altice Portugal to digital publication Dinheiro Vivo

On the Government side, the issue of DTT service discontinuity does not arise. In fact, the State Budget provides for such continuity. However, it fails to specify how this will happen. The president of the National Communications Authority (ANACOM), João Cadete, has defended that DTT should be made available via cable and free of charge to all families. In July, he said that this possibility “makes perfect sense” and would be “of interest both to television companies and consumers”

The truth is that there are no figures. Although DTT covers one hundred percent of the national territory, via terrestrial or satellite signal, it is not known how many homes access television contents only via DTT. However, ANACOM data released on 07 September show that 94.8 percent of households subscribe to a television service, with 4.4 million active customers in the first half of 2022. 59% of customers receive television via fibre

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