European Commission publishes mobile TV guidelines

11 Dec 2008

The European Commission has published its guidelines for EU countries to accelerate the authorisation and rollout of TV services broadcast over mobile phone networks. The guidelines are designed to augment the addition of the DVB-H mobile TV technology platform to the EU list of official standards in March 2008. An official statement read: ‘In close cooperation with member states and industry, the Commission has identified the main principles which regulators and governments should follow when authorising operators to provide mobile TV services. Authorisations from member states for mobile TV services are needed before any commercial launches by operators…[the Commission] stands for a collaborative approach between broadcasters, mobile operators and platform operators, and we oppose heavy regulation or burdensome authorisation procedures for the introduction of mobile TV in Europe…To date, only a few states, such as Austria, Finland, France and Germany have adopted [necessary] legislation.’

The statement continued: ‘A straightforward, transparent and non discriminatory procedure for awarding licences is the key to avoiding delays. The quality of the service delivered to customers, including indoor coverage and transmission quality, should be part of the award conditions. The guidelines furthermore recommend that frequencies made available should be withdrawn if the service has not started within a reasonable period of time. They also advise regulators to keep the authorisation process open to all industry players and create conditions which encourage cooperation between telecoms operators (providing the service) and broadcasters (providing the content). Finally, they call upon the industry to make sure that DVB-H based services in every EU country work together. One way to do this is choosing non-proprietary technologies, which all consumers would be able to use without extra plug-ins and regardless of which device they use, to access mobile TV content…’

‘…Light regulation and clear licensing regimes will give industry the legal certainty needed to rapidly launch mobile TV offers. The Commission will keep a close eye on progress made and will not allow any unreasonable demands to delay progress in Europe. The Commission will continue to promote the exchange of information, experience and best practice between national authorities and other stakeholders. Moreover, the switchover from analogue to digital TV will facilitate access to new spectrum, which can be used for the provision of mobile TV services.’

According to Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms and Media Commissioner, ‘Successful commercial launches of mobile TV in Austria, Italy, Finland and the Netherlands have proved that efficient authorisation procedures are a key factor for the fast take-up of mobile TV. In Austria, 5,000 citizens were using mobile TV within the first weeks of its launch. In the Netherlands, 10,000 users had already subscribed to the service at the beginning of autumn. With predicted growth in sales during the Christmas period, many more Europeans should have the opportunity to watch TV on the go. Mobile TV revenues worldwide are expected to reach more than EUR7.8 billion (USD10.1 billion) in 2013.’

The Commission’s ‘Communication on Mobile TV’ is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/library/communications_reports/index_en.htm