DNA has decided to switch off its terrestrial TV network in Finland by end of July 2020. The firms says that it failed to attract sufficient number of big broadcasters in the network and thus, presumably, faced challenges in making the investment profitable. This is regrettable since existence of DNA’s network included a chance to make the market competitive.
As opposed to the leading Finnish DTT network operator, Digita, DNA operated in the VHF frequency band. Further, as opposed to Digita’s “high tower – high power” approach, DNA utilised low-power transmitters located at mobile masts. While this made DNA an independent competitor, it also posed material challenges. Most importantly, vast majority of the existing household receiver antennas are pointing towards Digita’s sites and are not compatible with the VHF band. In consequence, DNA would have needed highly attractive content in the network to motivate households to invest in receiver equipment required. On the other hand, lack of receiver antennas made the network less appealing to the broadcasters.
DNA entered the market as an attractive challenger in 2009 when it was awarded two network licences in the VHF band. A third licence, also in the VHF band, was awarded in 2011, and all the three licences were renewed in 2015. The licences would have remained valid until January 2027 but DNA has informed that it will surrender the licences back to the authorities. DNA continues its operations within cable TV and IPTV.
The future of the VHF band in Finland is uncertain. In theory, there is a chance to a new DTT player but the market has proved difficult for a new entrant. Norwegian Norkring had a serious attempt to enter during 2015 – 2016 (in the UHF band) but retired before actually rolling out a network. In some other markets the band is used for DAB but, at least currently, most Finnish stakeholders would seem to favour mobile solutions as a future delivery path for radio.