Today, Altice Portugal said it recognized “with great indignation” the country’s 2022 budget proposal for a doubling of fees for pay-TV operators, which has a “very strong impact on the sector”.
The proposed country budget for 2022 (OE2022) expects pay-TV operators to start paying a semi-annual fee of €2 per subscriber, which will translate into an annual fee of €4.
“With great indignation, Altice Portugal views the 2022 state budget proposal for a doubling of fees for pay-TV operators,” says the company headed by Alexandre Fonseca.
“Although this is an intention, it is unfortunate that a proposal of this nature, which has a very strong impact on the sector, is announced without first listening to the operators and working together on a strategic vision at the national level,” he criticized the owner of Meo.
He stressed that “it is also a great surprise that we received this proposal, as it is necessary to remember that in 2020 the Minister of State for Cinema, Audiovisual and Media said that there will be no increase in the above-mentioned rate.”
For Altice Portugal, this proposal “serves two purposes”, one of which is “to increase the asymmetry between national television distribution operators and international ‘broadcasting’ platforms which, as those who take these measures must be aware, are not regulated, rather they are not investing in national territory as operators do, and they often do not have customer service in national territory.”
The other purpose is “RTP financing, which operators are already paying to include their channels in the ‘Pay TV’ offer” [televisão paga]”.
In addition, he adds, “Altice Portugal has been waiting for several years for the definition of the trusteeship which decided that two new DTT channels would be completed, the absence of which has hurt Altice over time, not allowing it to get the corresponding revenue, as expected and as a result of the legislation in force it out”.
Owner Meo asserts that she “was and always will be ready to work with the state on projects of national interest, but does not accept that the electronic communications sector remains burdened with obligations of this kind, or that this sector alone continues to take on the role and responsibilities of the state.”
Indeed, recent developments in the social tariff of the Internet, according to which operators are forced to assume the social responsibility of the state, the shameful 5G auction process, as well as many other regulatory decisions, are real attacks on value creation in this sector”, criticizes.
He asserts that the sector has been undercapitalized “for the past few years,” with lost revenue, margins, and “being overburdened,” making it “difficult to continue to respond to technological developments and the real needs of the country.”
Altice Portugal notes that its “private and independent” investment in the fiber optic network “already reaches six million Portuguese homes and businesses”, an investment that “already exceeds” 3,000 million euros.
“For this reason, we resort to common sense,” he concludes.
The OE2022 proposal also states that “the amount equal to 75% of the total amount owed by subscription television operators, in the first half of the year”, when this fee is applied, will be “transferred annually” to the Instituto do Cinema and Audiovisual (ICA), ‘At the expense of the net result’ of Autoridade Nacional das Comunicações (Anacom) ‘to return to the state’.
The proposal also states that 50% of the proceeds from the collection of fees will constitute “ICA’s own revenue,” and the remaining 50%, “special revenue from Rádio e Televisão de Portugal,” “is intended to fulfill the investment obligations set forth in paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Law on the Promotion of Film and audiovisual activity.
Thus this point is translated as “financing the work of writing and development, the production and co-production of national creative works, or in the acquisition of copyright, transmission and availability of national and European creative works”.
According to the proposal, it will be up to ICA to forward the outstanding funds to RTP.
So far, the operators – MEO, NOS, NOWO and Vodafone – have paid an annual fee of €2 that goes back 100% to the ICA.
At the end of September, at the Portuguese Film Meetings, the Minister of State for Cinema, Audiovisual and Media, Nuno Artur Silva, said that in 2022, the financing of the cinema and audiovisual sector will see an increase of 10 million euros, entering “more decision centers”.
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