MADRID – The Spanish government ordered nine digital television channels to abandon their frequencies, annulling broadcast licenses awarded by the previous government in 2010.
The move, which executes a Spanish Supreme Court ruling that found the licenses invalid due to the fact they were awarded without a public auction, provoked the anger of the audiovisual sector.
STORY: Spain’s Goya Ceremony Slammed for Overly Political Tone
The Union of Associated Commercial Televisions (UTECA) announced its "absolute disagreement and discomfort" with the government’s decision and said it "affected the credibility of our country" and "threatened the development of value-added services."
UTECA emphasized that the decision will "affect a sector in crisis, that has lost 50 percent of its market in the past five years."
The 2010 ruling awarded an additional channel to the existing heavy weight media groups, Antena 3, Telecinco and Sogecable and two each to the smaller, Veo TV, Net TV and La Sexta.
The government is looking to reassign the frequencies by Jan. 1, 2014 for use–in part-by the telecom sector.
Presently, many of the extra channels feature low-cost programming that includes tarot card reading, psychics, etc.
STORY: Spain’s Mediaset Acquires Pro Soccer Rights
Even so, the Spanish daily El Mundo–owned by Unidad Editorial, the parent company of Veo TV which will lose two of its four channels– wrote in an editorial Saturday that there were other legal solutions to fixing the procedural error and that the investment made by the four affected companies will be lost.
"The broadcasters have invested in technology, have bought programs, have signed commercial agreements and have even acquired stakeholder packages that now will suffer an important loss in value. That opens the door to very probable juridical actions against the government."