EU Commission closes infringement procedures against ITALY and BULGARIA concerning assignment of TV frequencies

The European Commission has decided to close the infringement proceedings against ItalyandBulgaria concerning the assignment of digital terrestrial television (DTT) frequencies as they have taken steps to address the Commission’s concerns regarding their compliance with the ‘Competition Directive’ (2002/77/EC), ‘Authorisation Directive’ (2002/20/EC) and ‘Framework Directive’ (2002/21/EC).

In 2007 and 2012 the Commission sent reasoned opinions to Italy and Bulgaria respectively. In 2013 the Commission referred Bulgaria to the EU’s Court of Justice.

In 2015 the Court confirmed the Commission’s findings. Both Italy and Bulgaria took steps to address the Commission’s concerns, including the launch and finalization of an auction for the assignment of DTT frequencies in Italy, an amendment to the legislation at issue and the withdrawal of one of the disputed licenses in Bulgaria.

Moreover, significant changes can be expected in the DTT sector in the context of the ongoing “reforming” process whereby Member States need to move DTT frequencies from the 700 MHz frequency band, which will be used for mobile communications.

Following a careful examination of the facts of the cases as well as relevant market, regulatory and judicial developments, the Commission found that it is no longer opportune to continue the proceedings. The Commission continues monitoring the broadcasting markets across Europe, with a view to ensuring a level playing field.

The closure of these cases does not prevent the Commission from opening new infringement proceedings, should further concerns about the compliance of Italy or Bulgaria with Union law arise.

Arianna Podesta –

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