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Digital switchover in Turkey
Preparations for digital switchover are underway in Turkey. Most recently, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) which regulates the broadcast market, awarded 33 television service licenses for the national DTT platform as well as 242 television service licenses for the regional and local DTT platforms. Licenses were allocated via an auction which generated TRY 872 million (€380 million) from 265 broadcasters and surpassed the minimum prices set by the RTUK. This is an encouraging sign for the DTT market which has been hampered by delays and a decline in the number of viewers using the terrestrial television platform.
The DTT platform offers services across 8 multiplexes, of which 6 will be used by national broadcasters and one each for the public service broadcaster TRT and for regional and local broadcasters.
The national DTT platform will offer 11 high-definition and 22 standard-definition services, all of which have now been allocated to broadcasters. In each of the 7 regions, 4 standard-definition licenses will be available which could have allowed for up to 28 regional broadcast services. However, only 20 of these licenses have been allocated. In the urban centres, the number of local broadcast services varies with some cities, such as Istanbul having been allocated 7 local broadcast services while other cities not having any local services due to a lack of broadcast interest.
Turkish broadcast market
The Turkish television market offers many opportunities. According to data from IHS Screen Digest, revenue for the pay television market is set to nearly double from EURO 788 million in 2012 to EURO 1.3 billion in 2016. It also forecasts that advertising expenditure will increase from EURO 1.4 billion in 2012 to EURO 1.7 billion in 2016.
Most of the country's 18 million households access television services from free-to-view satellite. The satellite market is dominated by three main operators, DigiTurk, Dsmart, TurkSat, and accounts for approximately 70% of households. Cable is used by approximately 10% of households and only has one operator, DigiTurk. Analogue terrestrial offers free-to-air services and is used by approximately 15% of households although some estimates place analogue terrestrial penetration closer to 20% of households. IPTV services are offered by Turk Telekom and have experienced strong growth following their launch in 2010.
Leading broadcasters include the public service broadcaster TRT, and the commercial broadcast services Kanal D (Dogan Group) with a market share of 14.3%, ATV (Calik Group), Show TV (Cukurova Group) and Fox Turk (News Corp) with a market share of 8.5%.
The communications market is regulated by the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (ICTA) and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK). The ICTA allocates frequency bands for telecommunication and broadcast services while the RTUK issues broadcast licenses. The RTUK has been responsible for the tendering of licenses on the DTT platform.
On 3 March 2011, the Parliament approved a new legislative framework for the broadcast industry, including radio, television and on-demand services. This framework resolved several contentious issues related to foreign ownership of media groups and advertisement. Most notably, the new legislation put in place the framework allowing for the launch of the DTT platform. It required that the RTUK organise the tender for DTT licenses by March 2013, with licenses to be available for a 10-year period (compared with the previous 5-year period) and broadcasters obliged to launch their DTT services within 2 years of the license allocation. It also set aside the 800 MHz band for mobile telecom services although the timeline for its availability has not been set.
A single broadcast network operator will build and manage the DTT network. Already, broadcasters have set up ANTEN which is owned by 16 commercial broadcasters. According to legislative framework, it is not possible for any broadcaster to hold more than a 10% stake in ANTEN. Currently, a legal case is underway to determine whether it is legal for the public service broadcaster TRT to participate in the ownership of ANTEN.
It will use 952 transmitters to provide coverage to 90% of the population. It is expected that the remaining 10% of the population will access services using satellite reception.
Currently, ANTEN is undertaking DTT trials in Ankara offering content in both high- and standard-definition.
DTT receiver specification
The RTUK, together with the Turkish Standards Institution (TSE) issued minimum requirements for DTT receivers. These requirements call for the use of the DVB-T2 standard together with the MPEG-4 AVC standard. This will allow the DTT platform to offer both high-definition (HD) as well as standard-definition (SD) services. In terms of interactive services, the HbbTV standard has been adopted.
The DTT platform will operate in frequencies in both the UHF and the VHF bands. The channel raster for frequencies in the UHF band will be 8 MHz while a 7 MHz channel raster will be used in the VHF band.
Requirements differ depending on the type of receiver. Requirements are minimal for set-top boxes in comparison with those of television sets sized less than 26 inches and those 26 inches or more.
The DTT platform is set to launch in Ankara in November 2013. The platform will launch region-by-region with the simulcast period in each region to last approximately 6 months. Analogue switch-off is to be completed by 3 March 2015.
Source: Natalie Mouyal, on behalf of the DigiTAG Project Office
DigiTAG is an association of stakeholders in the digital terrestrial TV industry and has members from broadcasting, network operators, regulatory, and professional equipment and consumer electronics manufacturing organisations throughout the world. DigiTAG has recently re-launched with new Statutes and the mission of defending and promoting digital terrestrial television on a worldwide basis, and, notably, will work tirelessly to protect spectrum for broadcasting, regardless of the technical standard used on the DTT platform.
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