The European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term financing arm of the European Union (EU), is making a loan of EUR 72 million (ESP 12 000 million)(1) available to Retevisión towards funding the initial phase of its digital terrestrial radio and television broadcasting network.

Retevisión intends to introduce digital technology into its existing terrestrial television distribution network and at the same time to adopt digital technology for radio broadcasting. The main components of this capital investment project comprise nationwide installation of television and radio transmitters, transmitter towers and satellite links.

This investment will provide advanced digital communications access throughout Spain, making new broadband interactive multimedia television services equally available to all in today's information society. The new facilities will be especially beneficial for less developed regions, given that other communications technology such as cable distribution is economically unviable in thinly populated areas. The objectives served by the project all tie in with the Bank's information-driven Innovation 2000 Initiative.

Following the Spanish Government's decision to phase in the roll out of its digital terrestrial broadcasting programme and to phase out analogue technology by 2012, thereby allowing for a lengthy period of simulcast (transmission of programmes using both analogue and digital technology), Spain is set to become one of the first EU Member States to equip itself with digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTV) installations. The project complies with European Directive 47 of 1995, calling upon Member States to migrate to DTV.

The EIB has contributed financing towards virtually every large-scale telecommunications scheme currently under way in Spain. In this year alone, it has granted six loans for as many projects, i.e. providing EUR 1 146 million in all (some ESP 190 000 million).

The EIB was founded in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community, with the aim of fostering enhanced integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion in the Member States by providing long-term financing for capital investment furthering attainment of EU objectives.

In response to the guidelines handed down by the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, underscoring the need to develop a more competitive, dynamic and knowledge-based European economy, the EIB unveiled its Innovation 2000 Initiative, which targets finance at projects generating high technological value added.

Owned by the EU Member States, the EIB funds its lending operations through borrowings raised on the capital markets, where its bond issues systematically enjoy the top AAA rating.

(1) EUR 1 = ESP 166.386, 0.596700 GBP