The Commission referred Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) due to breaches of EU law in the assignment of digital terrestrial broadcast spectrum. The efficient reallocation of radio spectrum as a result of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting is part of the EU’s Digital Agenda. In order to ensure the entry of new competitors into the market, the Commission adopted a set of rules for the allocation of extra spectrum capacity, which require the spectrum to be allocated under open, transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria. The Commission found that the allocation criteria applied by Bulgaria was based on disproportionately restrictive award conditions, resulting in the exclusion of potential candidates. According to the Commission, this would impede competition in the future in the Bulgarian digital terrestrial television infrastructure market, in breach of the applicable Directives on electronic communications. Bulgaria has announced the launch of a new tender procedure for the assignment of further spectrum. However, this spectrum will not be available before 1 September 2013, the date of the analogue switch off. Thus, the Commission is concerned that the current TV channels will make contracts with the broadcast network operator before the additional spectrum is available and therefore there would be no business case for a new operator to enter the market after that date. Therefore, the Commission decided to refer Bulgaria to the ECJ. Source: Commission Press Release 24/1/2013
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Commission refers Bulgaria to Court of Justice of the European Union over assignment of digital terrestrial broadcasting authorizations
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