From Branislav Pekic in Rome
The new auction to reallocate the TV frequencies from the so-called ‘beauty contest’ will take place within three months, according to the amendment to the Tax Decree submitted by the Italian Government on April 16th.
The auction will be prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development, on the basis of procedures established by the telecommunications sector regulator (AgCom).
The amendment highlights the needs for the introduction of urgent measures for pluralism and efficiency in spectrum use and for technological innovation. It also states that ”the critical context of the public finances” required an assessment of the economic value of the frequencies for the Italian state.
The amendment also foresees that the auction must ensure “the vertical separation between programme providers and network operators, as well as the network operators’ obligation to provide access to program providers on fair and non discriminatory grounds”.
Italy’s Mediobanca has estimated that the frequency auction could bring in €1 billion-1.2 billion in revenue for the state coffers, under the condition that foreign participants take part.
Commercial broadcaster Mediaset has protested against the path chosen by the Italian government, even going as far as to define as “illegal” the decision to stop the free allocation of the DTT multiplexes.
The auction is likely to allocate frequencies as part of different packages. Some of these, positioned above the 700 MHz band, could be assigned for a limited period of time (probably until 2015) to services other than TV, and then reassigned again for a lower fee. The frequencies to be used exclusively for TV services would cost more and would also be assigned for a longer period.
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