Portugal Telecom has officially handed back the licences for its five DTT pay-TV multiplexes to the telecommunications regulator Anacom and to the media regulator ERC. PT argued that the market conditions for pay-DTT have changed since 2008 and that it has become impossible to develop a viable business. PT won the licences against competition from the Swedish AirPlus.
PT has also requested that the regulators hand back the €2.5 million deposit made by PT under the tender rules. However, while Anacom has indicated it is willing to return the funds, ERC has refused to accept the request and a complex dispute has opened up between the two regulators.
Sonaecom, Zon, Impresa and Media Capital have in separate statements voiced their opposition to PT’s request. While they agree that the licences should be returned they argue that there is no legal basis to hand over of the deposit because the changed market conditions resulted from PT’s own actions and not from any sudden change in market conditions.
Sonaecom said that together with other investors and the public in general it wants consistent government decisions and that all applicable rules must be enforced, meaning that the €2.5 million must stay in State hands.
Impresa said that Anacom did not offer any solid argument to support the return of the deposit. It argues that PT’s sole objective had been to prevent other operators from entering the market. Media Capital argued that PTC ‘s behaviour appears to be unfair competition as it succeeded in the elimination of potential competitors.
PT knew that it was in a position to in the future influence market conditions as it eventually did, Zon argues. Market conditions did indeed change as a result of the competitive strategic decision of PT to become a pay-TV market player through Meo, its IPTV and DTH brand. This decision was taken by PT before entering the contest for the pay DTT licences.
PT knew all along that the commercial targeting of its fixed line subscribers would – as it did – introduce changes in the overall pay-TV market conditions and that PT now intends to benefit from a situation that it itself created.