Brussels Takes Bulgaria to Court over DTT Deals

The European Commission is referring Bulgaria to the EU Court of Justice over the way it assigned its digital broadcast spectrum.The European Commission on Thursday said the procedure followed by Bulgaria was based on disproportionately restrictive award conditions, which had led to the exclusion of potential candidates.

This hampered competition in the digital terrestrial television, DTT, market, contrary to the aims of EU Directives, with which Bulgaria has had to comply since joining the EU in 2007.

The reallocation of radiospectrum as a result of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting is part of the EU’s policy objectives under the Digital Agenda, the Commission noted.

“To ensure that this process leads to the entry of new players capable of enhancing competition in the market and expanding viewer choice, the mentioned EU Directives establish a set of principles which need to be complied with by Member States,” the Commission said.

“These rules require… that the concerned spectrum be allocated under transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria,” it added.

But the Commission says Bulgaria did not comply with the mentioned Directives in 2009 when it assigned five DTT broadcasting spectrum lots via two contest procedures, limiting without justification the number of companies that could potentially enter the market.

It said the selection criteria of the contest procedures were also disproportionate.

Bulgaria as awarded licenses for its multiplexesto only two companies, Latvia’s Hannu Pro(four) and Slovakia’s Towercom (two).

If the judges at the Luxembourg court rule against Bulgaria, it may have to pay a fine of up to 200,000 euro a day.

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