ANATEL's Plans
Current Discussions

ANATEL's Plans

On April 17 2001 the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL) published Public Consultation 291 regarding digital television. Public comments may be submitted until June 18 2001. ANATEL hopes to gain sufficient support to ultimately opt for a digital television technological standard and business model for Brazil.

ANATEL first announced the proposed procedures for conducting digital television tests in Public Consultation 65 (July 27 1998). This prompted discussions on the technological standard to be adopted. The possibilities are:

  • the North American advanced television system committee system;
  • the European digital video broadcasting system; and
  • the Japanese integrated services digital broadcasting system.

Digital televisual technology consists of the transmission of sound and images through digital signals. Transmission takes place through bits(1) rather than analogue signals, making possible the transmission of more information with increased quality and less interference.

Current Discussions

One of the principal topics of debate surrounding adoption of the digital television system in Brazil concerns the resources that will be made available to the consumer. There has been suggestion of:

  • one channel being divided into sub-channels, to be used by broadcasters to provide additional information;
  • high image definition television (HDTV); and
  • the introduction of interactive television (to include interactive television shows and internet access for online banking and shopping).

However, there is no news concerning the need for a reverse channel in order for these resources to be supplied. It is thought that the mobility of digital television (lauded by those who defend the Japanese model) makes little sense if it is used only for the transmission of television without audience interaction.


The transition from analogue to digital television should occur gradually so as not to affect adversely consumers, equipment manufacturers and broadcasters. However, the image resolution of current analogue television sets is sufficient neither for HDTV nor the Internet(2). Moreover, a decoder is required in order for conventional television sets to receive a digital signal.

The cost of digital television sets is prohibitive for consumers and they are considered to be luxury items. Even the price of decoders is considered to be too high for the majority of the public. Some of these sets permit resources with subtitles and sub-channels, but will always encounter the limitations of television sets themselves (eg, poor image resolution).

One solution is the simultaneous transmission of analogue and digital signals during a transmission period (so-called 'simulcast'), which would have to be agreed by broadcasters in conjunction with ANATEL. However, the need for simultaneous transmission of digital and analogue signals gives rise to the problem of the availability of space in frequency bands.

Other problems include the need for regulation on a reverse channel to allow for internet and other services, and the characterization of digital television as a telecommunications service or technology. Currently television broadcasting does not have a reverse channel and this precludes access to the Internet. For this to be viable it is necessary for ANATEL to regulate the use of the reverse channel defining its technical specifications (as was the case with multichannel multipoint distribution service).

Another question that arises is the characterization of digital television as a technology or telecommunications service. The purpose of digital television is the digitalization of the analogue transmission, which restricts discussion of the technical advancements of the service. No new telecommunications system will emerge at the end of the discussions concerning the system to be adopted by Brazil. Rather, we are likely to see changes in the television broadcasting regulation for the implementation of digital television.

Furthermore, it is not possible to consider digital television to be a value added service, since it is linked to the television broadcasting service (albeit technically improved by means of the digitalization of data). The provision of value added service over the television broadcasting service is likely to include, for example, internet access or purchasing and information services. However, these services will not be linked to sound and image broadcasting.


Digital television is a new technology that is likely to be incorporated by the current television broadcasting service. It will be subject to the broadcasting service's regulations and limitations, including those concerning the holding of concessions by native Brazilians or those naturalized in Brazil for more than 10 years only, as established in the Constitution.

For further information on this topic please contact Ricardo Barretto, José Leça or Luiz Felipe Horta Maia at Barretto Ferreira, Kujawski, Brancher e Gonçalves – Sociedade de Advogados by telephone (+55 11 3066 5999) or by fax (+55 11 3167 4735) or by e-mail ([email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]).


(1) The binary, composite system of 0 and 1 is used. The sequence of these numbers codifies information.

(2) The existing forms of internet television have proved to be dissatisfactory for consumers due to the poor quality of screen images.

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