Commission takes Bulgaria to court over DTT allocations

europe-chalksThe European Commission is to refer Bulgaria to the EU’s Court of Justice over its assignment of DTT frequencies.

In an investigation the Commission found the procedure used by Bulgaria had been based on disproportionately restrictive award conditions, leading to the exclusion of potential candidates. The Commission said this hampered competition and was in breach of the EU Directives on electronic communications.

“The Commission considers that Bulgaria did not comply with the requirements of the Competition Directive when it assigned in 2009 the five spectrum lots available via two contest procedures, limiting without justification the number of companies that could potentially enter the market,” it said.

Applicants that had links with content providers were excluded, including those that were only active outside of Bulgaria.

In March 2012, the Commission ordered the Bulgarian authorities to rectify the matter and a new DTT tender was launched.

However, this spectrum will not be available before September 1, 2013, the date of the analogue switch off. It is expected that current TV channels will enter into agreements with broadcast network operators before the switchover so as to be broadcast on the new DTT infrastructure on that date.

This substantially reduces the business case for entering the market after that date.