Study: Spain can't meet digital deadline

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MADRID -- Two years ahead of Spain's planned analog blackout, a study by an independent Madrid-based think tank made public Thursday doubted the feasibility of the 2010 deadline.

Conducted by communications professor Enrique Bustamante for the Fundacion Alternativas, the study cites a range of reasons for its conclusion, including the failure of local digital terrestrial television, lack of moving content on existing DTT channels, political intervention and weak motivation on the part of the broadcasters.

According to the study, Spain is simply not ready to say goodbye to analog.

"No government without a suicidal wish could turn off analog television for a considerable percentage of the population," the study claims.

The governing Socialist Party has thrown its weight behind the blackout and pressured broadcasters to transition toward the new technology.

But for Bustamante, Spain needs a new audiovisual law and a state council to oversee the television sector and review the mechanisms for awarding state DTT concessions.

DTT took 5.4% audience share in Spain in February with just over 3 million Spanish homes owning decoder boxes. Market penetration sits at 14.4% of Spain's 16 million households.

Spain's leading broadcaster reigns in DTT as well. Telecinco's DTT channels -- Telecinco, Telecinco Estrellas and Telecinco Sport -- account for 21.1% of the market, thanks to a digital simulcast of its regular programming.

Antena 3 TV's Neox is the most successful specifically-designed DTT channel, cornering 2.7% of the audience.
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