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DNA to close down VHF DTT network

Finnish telecom and cable operator DNA has decided to close its VHF digital-terrestrial network and give up its DTT licence next year to focus on cable and broadband distribution of TV services.

DNA has provided HD TV services over the VHF network for almost 10 years. The company said, however, that despite making investments in building the number of VHF antennas in the country the market had failed to take off in a way that made the business viable.

The company will no longer negotiate new terrestrial distribution contracts and aims to close the network at the end of July. It said it would continue to service DTT customers through broadband distribution.

Pay channels currently on the VHF network will be transferred to the UHF network with the new year, when the business acquisition between DNA and Digita, concerning terrestrial pay-TV operations, comes into force. Subscribers will be able to continue receiving these channels without interruption via an UHF antenna on their property. The distribution of Yle’s HD channels via DNA’s VHF network will continue for now, and future distribution plans will be announced separately. Distribution of MTV3 HD and TV5 HD FTA channels via the VHF network will end at the end of this year.

“Our objective was to bring competition to the Finnish terrestrial TV market, which has traditionally been dominated by one operator. We wanted to challenge this monopoly in terms of both price and quality. We have succeeded in significantly expanding and improving the range of channels available in terrestrial households, as well as moving terrestrial TV distribution to HD, but unfortunately we were not able to bring on board the kind of network capacity customers key to making the business viable,” explains DNA’s senior VP, consumer business Pekka Väisänen.

The decision follows a green light from the Finnish regulator in September for the sale of DNA’s DTT pay TV business to rival Digita.

DNA was last year involved in a protracted dispute with public broadcaster Yle over the latter’s procurement of DTT distribution services. The service provider filed a complaint last year that Yle’s procurement process for DVB-T2 distribution of its channels was discriminatory because it allocated responsibility for ensuring that properties are equipped with antennas on the network operator – something that DNA said would unfairly penalise it, as VHF frequencies require separate VHF antennas on premises.