New digital, local TV: “Penalized, a single switch-off is needed in June 2022”

Technologies change and TV is updated, but the transition to second-generation digital terrestrial navigation navigates the regulatory chaos. The budget laws 2018 and 2019 provide for a general reorganization of the Italian television system with the aim, imposed by the European Union, to dispose of the 700 band (which will be destined for telecommunications), passing by June 2022 to a new transmission system called Dvb -T2 / Hevc. The change will take place with a gradual switch-off: the shutdown of the current frequencies of local TVs should begin on 1 September this year in the regions of northern Italy, while for national TVs the shutdown of most of the current frequencies is expected. starting from 1 April 2022. A migration extended over time that immediately affects local TVs – forced to experience a transition period with a temporary broadcast format – while the national ones will continue to be seen with current televisions until next spring . In the meantime, local TVs will participate in regional tenders to obtain the new broadcasting spaces offered by the new network operators. Regarding Telelibertà the deadline set by the Ministry’s plan for the transition to the new technology is set at 31 December 2021.

A technological change that brings with it advantages – such as support for a higher resolution up to 8K and a cleaner signal – but on the other hand the need for citizens to equip themselves with a compatible TV or decoder to continue to see the programs. But not only. The technology transition diluted over time – unlike the previous switch-off from analog to digital in 2010 which occurred for all national and local TV channels in a single moment – involves unfavorable conditions for local broadcasters who would face a transitional phase uncertain in timing and changing technologies. With consequent disadvantages for the final user.

“It does not appear technically possible to assign the Lcn numbers (the channel number associated with each broadcaster) in time for the start of the transition of the local television sector in Northern Italy on 1 September – explains the lawyer Marco Rossignoli, coordinator of Aeranti-Corallo, the association that brings together about 600 local broadcasters scattered throughout the national territory -. In fact, it is necessary to take into account the times for submitting applications (at least 30 days) and the times for the formation of the assignment rankings “.

Time dilations which – together with the need to temporarily use the Mpeg4 video format pending the definitive Hevc one from June 2022 – would entail enormous damage for local TVs, many of which would no longer be able to broadcast. To create further uncertainty, according to Aeranti-Corallo, there is also the pressure on politics by the large national broadcasters so that they are not obliged to adopt the new broadcasting standard, which is also imposed by Europe, effectively creating a competitive disadvantage for TVs. premises for which sufficient transmission space would not be created and, consequently, forcing at least one third, if not half, of the definitive black-out.

“It is also necessary to consider the times for the completion of the assignment of the new rights to use the frequencies to the new network operators and for the material realization of the related networks – continues Rossignoli -. To overcome all these critical issues – a redefinition of the roadmap would be appropriate, in the opinion of Aeranti-Corallo ”.
According to the association of local broadcasters, the only solution that appears feasible is to provide for a simultaneous switch to Dvbt-2 / Hevc technology throughout the country – both of the local and national television broadcasters – between April and June 2022. , or even, between September and December 2022, if its feasibility emerges in Europe.

“In this way – continued Rossignoli – a single switch-off would be created and users would be encouraged to purchase new televisions and new decoders suitable for DVBT-2 / Hevc reception, in order to continue receiving the entire offer. terrestrial television “. An important commercial operation, which involves something like 30 million televisions potentially destined for scrapping or integration with the decoder, for which the government has provided a bonus of up to 50 euros reserved for families with an ISEE of up to 20 thousand euros.

With the Aeranti-Corallo proposal, the transition would be in a single phase for everyone, both citizens and broadcasters, without any intermediate step to Mpeg4 technology. “In fact, a double technological transition within a few weeks would be incomprehensible – explains Rossignoli – which would generate a reduction in space for local broadcasters, without any benefit for users”.
The objective of the request is therefore oriented both to the optimization of technical times for broadcasters, and to the best solution for end users, who could therefore approach the purchase of devices with definitive technology and with the possibility of taking advantage of any commercial promotions and of forms of contribution to support the purchase of new decoders and televisions. The appeal is therefore addressed to the Ministry of Economic Development to “clarify the timing and modalities of the transition as soon as possible in the light of all the critical issues, in order to allow local television companies to organize themselves in the best possible way to deal with the transition to digital. second generation terrestrial television “.

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