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European Commission - Press release
Commission asks Bulgaria to ensure open and non-discriminatory access to digital terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure market
Brussels, 22 March 2012 - 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 for digital terrestrial broadcasting via two contest procedures, limiting without justification the number of undertakings that could enter the market concerned. Moreover, the selection criteria of the contest procedures were disproportionate and therefore not in line with the requirements of the Competition, Authorisation and Framework Directives. Applicants were not allowed to have links with content providers (TV channels operators), including operators active only outside Bulgaria, or with broadcasting network operators.
The decision takes the form of a reasoned opinion, the second step in infringement proceedings under Article 258 of the TFEU. Bulgaria now has two months to inform the Commission of the measures taken to address the breach of EU Law and allow effective entry into the Bulgarian digital terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure. If the national authorities do not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
The Commission welcomes Bulgaria's recent announcement of the launch of a tender procedure for the assignment of this spectrum. In December 2011, Bulgaria amended its legislation to allow for the launch of a new tender procedure before 1 September 2013. The Commission expects Bulgaria to publish the conditions of the tender as soon as possible, so that potential new entrants can prepare their applications, be selected and enter the market before the date set for the analogue switch off, 1 September 2013. The Commission will monitor that the tender conditions are in line with the Directives and allow effective entry into the digital terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure market.
The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting by 2012 constitutes one of the EU’s policy objectives. This change creates the opportunity to ensure a more efficient use of radio frequencies and to re-arrange a significant proportion of the spectrum for new services (‘the digital dividend’). In order to ensure that this process leads to the entry of new players capable of enhancing competition and expanding viewer choice, the Commission monitors that the rules set out in the Competition, Authorisation and Framework Directives for the allocation of this spectrum capacity are complied with. These rules require that rights of use for radio frequencies are allocated by way of open, transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate procedures, without prejudice to general interest objectives.
The applicable EU legislation is the following:
Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services (‘Competition Directive’), Official Journal L 249, 17.9.2002, pp. 21-26.
Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (‘Authorisation Directive’), Official Journal L 108, 24.4.2002, pp. 21-32.
Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (‘Framework Directive'), Official Journal L 108, 24.4.2002, pp. 33-50.
For more information on EU infringement proceedings, see (Sec Gen IP on March infringement round).
Current figures on infringements in general can be found here.