Broadcasters will be told to broadcast only in the HD format, while others will lose the opportunity altogether, under controversial new plans for Spain’s terrestrial spectrum put forward by the ministry for industry.

The amount of capacity available to local private networks will be reduced by 20% of that currently available, forcing consumers to again upgrade their receivers if they wish to continue their viewing uninterrupted.

According to the Spanish daily El Pais, local broadcasters such as Veo TV and Net TV, have reacted angrily, not least because of the potential for lost revenues should they no longer be able to sublease their capacity to the larger groups that include Sony, Disney Channel and Viacom.

Following the analogue switch-off in April 2010, Antena 3, Telecinco, Cuatro, La Sexta, Net TV and Veo TV each received an allocation of four channels within a multiplex. Under the plans the number of channels per multiplex would be increased to six, effectively ruling out an upgrade to high definition.

Meanwhile, the larger broadcasters Telecinco, Antena 3, Cuatro and La Sexta would be told to end the current HD simulcasts and switch exclusively to high definition.

There are concerns that those channels that currently broadcast high definition do so at such a low bit rate so as to remove any incentive to upgrade.
The plan is necessary because of the spectrum requirements of the mobile industry, which is expected to be released spectrum before January 2014.