With due consideration of the complexity and far reaching consequencies of the transition from analogue to digital, relevant Strategic Plan for Introduction of Terrestrial TV Broadcasting (DVBT) in the Republic of Bulgaria has been elaborated and approved at session of the Council of Ministers of 31 January 2008 (Reference: Protocol No 5 by decision on Agenda item 24). Its main considerations and key aspects are provided herewith.
3.1 Background of country TV broadcasting market
3.1.1 TV Programme licences
As of January 2008, a total of 203 TV programmes have been licensed for delivery to the population of this country by cable television, terrestrial broadcasting and via satellite.
18.104.22.168 The terrestrial broadcasting component ensures analogue delivery of the total of seven TV programmes as follows:
a) Three nation-wide TV programmes, namely:
– “Channel 1” of the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) with population coverage of 98,3% achieved by 677 high power main transmitters, relay transmitters and low power fill-in transmitting stations in Frequency Bands II, III, IV and V;
– “bTV” with population coverage of 97% achieved by 676 high power main transmitters, relay transmitters and low power fill-in stations in Frequency Bands III, IV and V; and
– “Nova” exceeding 70% population coverage achieved by total of 143 transmitters, with comparatively lesser number of high power main transmitters and with a growing network of relay transmitters and low power fill-in transmitting stations, all operating in Frequency Bands IV and V.
b) In addition there are four regional TV programmes licensed to be on air in the towns of Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Russe and Varna.
22.214.171.124 Remaining 196 licenses are issued for TV programme delivery via cable or satellite.
Seventeen licenses are issued to public broadcasting operators and 169 licenses to commercial broadcasting operators totalling 186 regular licenses. Furthermore, the said regular licenses are supplemented by additional 42 specific licenses (temporary in nature but still in force) for terrestrial analogue broadcasting.
3.1.3 Cable/Satellite/Terrestrial delivery
It is estimated that predominantly around 63% of the country population is served by cable network delivery, 7% of the population by satellite and about 30% of the population receives TV programming via terrestrial broadcasting channels. While every country town is served via cable TV network delivery only about 28% of the villages of this country are served by cable TV. It is expected that cable TV network delivery would reach its saturation limit at 75% of the population coverage.
The country population having access to terrestrial TV broadcasting only is estimated to be within 10 to
3.1.4 Digital terrestrial TV broadcasting
Only one digital terrestrial TV broadcasting operator has been licensed to serve the area of Sofia City since 2004.
The said Plan for introduction of digital terrestrial broadcasting aims not only at retaining the number of users who, in spite of having access to cable, terrestrial and satellite delivery, have already chosen to use analogue terrestrial delivery, but also has set the target of increasing the number of digital terrestrial delivery users in nearest future. Indeed the Plan has the objective of creating an enabling competitive environment thus effectively preventing the monopolistic cable and satellite delivery operators’ grasp at the market.
Towards this end, the digital terrestrial broadcasting shall be deployed under certain conditions as follows:
– free of charge delivery to users (not more than one encrypted programme per multiplex be permitted);
– initial number of programmes delivered shall be not less than 15;
– programmes delivered be composed of an attractive-to-viewers blend of national, regional and local origin;
– HDTV programme delivery license applications be allowed by 2011;
– better quality and offer of additional/interactive e-services and applications, in consistency with Directives 2002/21/EC (Framework Directive) and 2002/19/EC (Access Directive) of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 March 2002; and
– mobile outdoor reception predominantly for cars and portable reception inside of buildings expected to be used for the purpose of second and third household receivers.
The said Transition Plan has defined the strategic aspects of:
– population coverage objectives and criteria;
– Multiple Frequency Network (MFN) approach dedicated only to nation-wide coverage, while Single Frequency Network (SFN) approach will be applied explicitly to allotment zones;
– initial build-up of SFN network broadcast coverage of densely populated towns and areas (Island Coverage) within any allotment zone followed by further gradual network extension until the entire allotment zone coverage has been achieved;
– optimization of number of multiplexes within allotment zones;
– granting license or temporary permission to any new analogue terrestrial broadcasting operator applicant will be severely restricted;
– parallel broadcasting of both the analogue and the digital (simulcast) being limited to one year duration upon the expiry of which the concerned analogue broadcasting license/s will be terminated. Thus the reuse of liberated spectrum of analogue broadcasting is provided for further build-up of digital terrestrial TV broadcasting networks as per the Plan;
– establishing criteria for switch-off of analogue TV broadcasting, but not later than end 2012;
– nation-wide coverage by digital terrestrial broadcasting to be completed in all zones by end 2015;