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"Let the TV be enhanced"

altThe Association of Subscription and Satellite Television Operators of Colombia, TVPC, calls for the new legislation for television in Colombia to take into account the equal conditions for all operators, especially with the transmission of TV over the Internet.

By Richard Santa S.


Colombia is currently discussing what its new legislation will be for television and the plans for convergence between ICTs, following the goal of the Government of that country that aims to eliminate the maximum control entity of the television industry: the National Television Commission.

- Publicidad -

For the new legislation, the Minister of ICTs, Diego Molano Vega, has proposed that a process of reflection be made with all the actors involved in the industry throughout the country, for which they have been doing forums in different cities of Colombia specifying the proposal that will be presented to Congress for discussion during the second half of this year.

For its part, each of the actors has been preparing its proposals: the Ministry of ICTs, the Congress, the channels, the associations, the regulators, and after listening to them all it can be concluded that there is a consensus on what should be changed and that there should be a convergence between television and ICTs.

One of the actors most interested in legislation that promotes the convergence of ICTs with the television industry are subscription operators, who see how current laws leave them at a disadvantage with Internet transmission.

Jaime Andrés Plaza Fernández, president of the Association that brings together the Subscription and Satellite Television Operators of Colombia, TVPC, has pointed out that inequality in the legislation can bring problems of evasion and investment in the country by the Internet giants and seriously affect the companies he represents.

TV Y VIDEO spoke with him about the current situation of cable operators and the proposal that the union brings to the current discussion in Colombia.

1. How are subscription television companies currently doing in Colombia and Latin America?
According to data from the last year, in Colombia we closed 2010 with growth in the number of cable television subscribers. This means that, based on CNTV data, in Colombia there are 3.5 million households with subscription TV.

But these data do not include the beneficiaries of community television and other subscription models, with which it is estimated that we would be reaching about six million households, half of the households that according to the Dane exist in Colombia.

- Publicidad -

This undoubtedly leaves Colombia in a very good position, compared to the other countries of Latin America, because we would have a penetration of 50% of the national territory.

2. How do cable TV companies see pages like Cuevana and the announcement of the arrival of Netflix in Latin America?
The unionized companies see in this type of portals a complement to improve the offer of services, these are simply the beginning of what comes next.

Now we have to think that depending on the age of the users, the way of seeing audiovisual content changes. The younger they are, the more they seek access from the cell phone, tablets, computer.

3. What are the effects of Internet TV streaming for TVPC affiliated companies?
For us as a guild and our affiliated companies the most important thing is to recognize that there is a direct influence of the Internet in the television industry and that it is already a reality.

That is why what the guild I represent is asking for is a level playing field for all players. All investment and all competition that comes to the country is welcome, but we need to be on an equal footing to be able to compete.


- Publicidad -


4. What do you mean by equality?
We need a regulation that is as similar as possible for the whole chain. Today there is an abysmal difference that must be corrected and that has two ways of being done. The first is to equate the regulation of the television industry with ICTs, as is being proposed in Europe.

The second would be to equate Internet regulation with television. This would mean restricting the freedom of content on the Internet, entering the select group of countries that currently exercise control over it such as China, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. This is a luxury that a democratic country like Colombia cannot afford.

5. What are the differences that currently exist?
Today in Colombia there is an asymmetry in regulations. Companies in the ICT sector have to pay 2.2% of their income, added to taxes and have an open regime.

While the television companies have to pay 7% on revenues, more taxes and the regime is closed.

6. Does the legislation in the region provide guarantees to cable and satellite television operators against the Internet?
In the region, the discussion on this issue is just beginning. There are really few countries that have a regulation in this regard.

Many are simply letting time pass to see what decisions other countries are making. But everything points towards a regulation that facilitates the convergence of ICTs.

7. And in Colombia what is the discussion about?
With the elimination of the constitutional status of the National Television Commission and its very safe elimination at the end of this year, the basis can be laid for us to reach a convergence in terms of ICTs and the television industry.

In the discussion of the new regulatory framework, the issue of convergence must go, without a doubt. It would be one of the first countries in the region to have it.

8. What are the guarantees that you demand from the Government?
What we ask is that there be clear and reasonable rules that enhance television in Colombia. What we cannot allow is for Internet giants to arrive in the country and keep audiovisual content without investing, without generating employment and without paying taxes. We would all lose.

9. Have you spoken to the Colombian government about this issue?
Of course, we prepared a document that we presented to the government in which we concentrated our proposals and our concepts on what should be the new legislation for the television industry that is on the table in Colombia.

This proposal is in line with what other actors in the sector have been saying, such as the Minister of ICTs, among others.

10. What does this proposal consist of?
The main objective of our proposal is to enhance television in the country. That is why we require regulation based on current market conditions, on its realities, rather than on the legal field.

And in that sense we propose that all players have equal opportunities, without special regimes, with free entry of investors and without invisible barriers, seeking to increase the number of people on subscription television.

On the subject of control, we recommend that the regulation of networks be in charge of the Telecommunications Regulation Commission, spectrum to the National Spectrum Agency and a new Content Directorate.

11. What about community television operators?
For them we propose that they can have the option of entering as cable operators without any restriction if they wish or that they can stay as community members.

And finally, for public television we propose that it has funding that is based on creative industries, and that they can adapt to the different audiences in which they are segmented with multiplatform content.





Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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