Further gloom for ex-pats in Spain
Falling property prices, weakening pound v. euro, inflation, rising crime rates, increasing taxes and now ..... no television !
Thousands of residents have once again been deprived of their television viewing, after the Spanish authorities carried out a high profile investigation into the activities of their television provider.
The police investigation into the broadcasting rights of local digital television provider, Telmicro Levante S.L came to a head this week, with a series of raids on its offices. The company was established around two years ago, when Ángel, the owner of ASYT (which operated under the name Telmicro Levante S.L.) went into partnership with Amiel of Cina Electronica S.L. It has been in the spotlight on several occasions during recent months, motivated by the Ministry of Telecommunications (CMT) introduction of new legislation preventing them and other British television providers from re-broadcasting Sky and other subscription channels. The company temporarily withdrew selected channels from its broadcasting network in May, stating that it would be “breaking the law” if it did not observe the new restrictions. It was believed that the legislation would only affect those receiving re-broadcasted signals through mesh dishes, as satellite dishes receive a direct, legitimate signal from Sky or alternative broadcasting networks.
The missing channels were gradually re-introduced to the Telmicro system, much to the delight of viewers, who naturally assumed that the problems had been resolved. More customers subscribed and existing clients have since continued to pay annual subscription charges and enjoy the full benefits of their television package. Until now. On Tuesday morning, plain-clothed and duty patrols from the Policia Judicial and Guardia Civil based in Torrevieja, Alicante, Novelda and Pilar de la Horadada, raided the Telmicro Levante offices in San Luis, in an operation which continued throughout the day. Telmicro clients experienced a temporary break in service during the morning, while ‘Sunshine FM’ Radio Station, which also uses the Cina system, temporarily went off air. Selected channels were reinstated intermittently, before computers and other technical equipment were catalogued and confiscated from the Los Montesinos office during the early part of the afternoon. Broadcasting then ceased completely. All the equipment was loaded into an unmarked van, along with several envelopes visibly brimming with cash and several representatives of the company were detained by the Guardia Civil. A Guardia Civil Spokesman told Spanish newspaper Informacion, that they had seized over a million euros worth of equipment and over 500,000 euros in cash. The Police subsequently closed the office to the public, who were already flocking to the door to complain about the latest viewing problems and the officers remained there for the rest of the day, questioning employees and several local business owners about the company’s activities.
All the company’s offices, including the ones in La Marina and Camposol were closed and the entrances bound with official police tape. Notices have now been posted upon the doors, informing clients that the business has been closed by the ‘Juzgado de Primera Instancia Numero Uno’ pending a court hearing. The Guardia have 72 hours to charge the 17 detainees, who are mainly British. They have said that they expect to make more arrests as the investigation continues. It appears that the operation on Tuesday was the culmination of several departments of the Spanish law enforcement agencies working together to stop the company from trading. National Police in Torre de la Horadada have said that the investigation that they themselves are conducting is due to; “delito contra la propiedad Intelectual” or copywrite infringement.
Independent installers who have been left as much in the dark by Telmicro Levante S.L. as its customers. A spokesman for the installers said; “We have been given no information from the company and we cannot answer any of the customers questions as we don’t know any more than they do. We feel that we are being blamed for what has happened but all this is not our fault; it is all down to Telmicro Levante. We have mortgages and families to support and now we are all out of work.” Incidentally, whilst these investigations have been continuing, Spanish Broadcasting giant, ‘Canal Digital Plus’, has secured a deal with ‘Sky Sports’ allowing it exclusive broadcasting rights to the channel in Spain