(Yet another) LCN consultation!

by DLA Piper
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Another chapter to the LCN saga in Italy.

As you recall from our previous posts and videos, the LCN, the logical channel numbering for Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting, remains a very controversial topic in Italy. This is not a surprise as a good LCN number may drive substantial investments (and in some instances decisions as to whether or not to invest in the Italian market).

A (very) brief recap of the story so far. The Italian Communications Authority (Agcom) issued two LCN plans. The Consiglio di Stato (Administrative Supreme Court) annulled the first plan. The Authority then issued a second plan, which is currently being challenged by various parties before the Administrative Courts. In the meantime, the Administrative Supreme Court appointed a “commissioner” (commissario ad acta) with the task to decide upon the allocation of certain LCN positions.

The commissioner had 90 days to come up with a solution. As a result, it issued a new consultation with a new draft plan.

Some commentators had been taken by surprise by this new consultation. The new draft plan maintains the same structure as provided by the first plan. There are many interesting points that are worth noting: among others (i) in the very first decade only 8 channels (1-8) are allocated to the national generalist channels, while (ii) the plan further revives the prior definition of semi-generalist channels, which in some instances will justify a consolidation of the current numbering allocation. According to the plan subject to consultation, the Ministry for Economic Development will then issue the additional rules and proceed with the allocation of the relevant numbers, with a switch-over to the new numbers to be completed within the same day throughout the Italian territory, as will be further determined by the Ministry.

The detail of the new plan entails some practical (and very relevant) consequences for the interested parties. Although there is still some degree of ambiguity as to what is the perimeter for the consultation, it is very likely that a lot of stakeholders will express their views. It will also be interesting to see how Agcom will react (and what will be the implications for the current AGCOM second plan).

Whatever the outcome, there is a unanimous consensus over the necessity to ensure more certainty over the process for the assignment of LCN numbers.

It you are interested in participating to the consultation, there are 30 days from publication of the commissioner decision. So hurry up!

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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