The Implementation of Digital Terrestrial Television in the European Union: A Comparative analysis of public intervention in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain.
The migration to digital television is one of the most notable transforma- tion processes that the European Audiovisual sector is facing at this moment. It supposes not only technological innovation but also great changes in the structure of the sector, the need to redefine the regulatory framework and the implementation of new business models; all together in an international scenario of convergence and globalization. But in addition, this migration also raises questions related to the social nature of communication, concerning the needs and rights of citizenship and the role of public institutions in the whole process. Digitalization of television has already become a research topic but is frequently treated with biased perspectives. Therefore, one of the objec- tives of this PhD dissertation is to carry out an accurate analysis in order to determine: What is really digitalization? How does it transform the media system? And, which are its main agents and phases? Systematizing digitalization as a transformation process would be useful to understand the changes that it causes, to face its obstacles and to forecast its consequences and benefits in a realistic way. Within this process, I am especially interested in public intervention. Deregulation is claimed by private agents as a measure to boost devel- opment. Public international institutions also seem to feel more comfortable with a ‘light-touch’ policy style that relies mainly on market competition. However, the implementation of Digital Terrestrial Television is an area where public intervention is specially challenged. The strong links between public service and terrestrial broadcasting create a specific context where the migration strategies that have already been used by satellite and cable commercial operators cannot be directly applied. Furthermore, the terrestrial broadcasting has a national character, being an important tool to create or shape identities and public opinion. For these reasons, despite the involvement of the European Union and other international political and economic forces, the migration of terrestrial broadcasting towards the digital is an affair that Member States wish and have to deal with by themselves. Considering this context, my PhD dissertation has as main objective to compare the public strategies in the first three European countries implementing DTT: United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain. The migration process has demonstrated to be quite more complicated than expected. The initial plans of these three states have suffered important modifications. The different backgrounds and policy traditions of these study cases ensure the richness of the comparative analysis and its results. It could be a tool that might allow us to detect which are the main problems of digitalization and to find out possible solutions to improve the migration processes, not only in the analyzed states but also in the rest of EU Members. Therefore, this PhD dissertation might be interesting for public and private agents involved in the ongoing migration process towards digital broadcasting.