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Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and
DVB World Conference 2008, 12 March 2008, Budapest
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me that the DVB World Conference comes together here in Hungary for the first time. I see this as a sign of how quickly the new Member States of the European Union are catching up in terms of telecommunications and media but also as a sign of how important the enlargement of the Union is for the Single market.
The European Commission wants European companies and consumers to better seize the benefits of convergence and digitalisation in order to give a boost to both the audiovisual and the telecom sectors in a win-win situation. We strongly believe that open standards, understood as technologies whose specifications are public and without any restriction in their access and implementation, are key tools in that respect. Indeed, only open technologies create a fair, competitive market, ensuring lower price and interoperability. As the convergence of communication platforms and the transition to digital technologies are taking place all over the world, I strongly believe that we need right now to give a common extra push from the EU, its Member States and the members of the DVB Project for the promotion of open technologies, technologies where Europe has considerable assets.
Today, I would like to focus on mobile TV, the opportunities for DVB technologies worldwide and our digital dividend strategy.
Let me first recall what we have achieved in the field of mobile broadcasting so far. One year ago, I voiced my discontent about the slow progress of mobile TV roll-out in Europe and warned that Europe was about to miss an important global opportunity and let South Korea, Japan and the US impose a model upon us and worldwide. That is why the European Commission presented a comprehensive EU strategy for mobile TV last summer: support to the combination of DVB-H and the UHF band and launch of a process highlighting good practices regarding authorisation regimes. The Commission was and still is firmly convinced that mobile TV is a market we must not let slip away and that 2008 is the right time to create conditions favourable to the rapid take-off of mobile broadcasting. Our proposals, although seen as unconventional by some at the beginning, have been largely endorsed by the Member States and won the support of a large part of the mobile TV industry: content producers, network operators, broadcasters, mobile service operators and equipment manufacturers. Indeed, mobile broadcasting means the opportunity to increase the consumption of television, hence to multiply prime time windows and hence advertising revenues; the opportunity to increase ARPU on mobile phone subscription; the opportunity to increase revenues for content creators and the opportunity for the software and hardware industries to bring new products on the market. So where do we stand now?
Important elements to make mobile broadcasting a success in Europe and an export product – as we do with mobile telephony - are now in place. DVB-H, which perfectly complements DVB-T, will be the open, European technology for mobile broadcasting. Concretely: The European Commission is currently finalizing the process to include DVB-H in the EU List of Standards, with the consequence that the Member States will promote the deployment of this open standard.
This choice by Europe of an open technology, in which industries from around the world actively participate – notably companies from Japan and South Korea – is also increasingly the choice of other countries around the world, who share our opinion that mobile broadcasting is an important addition to digital television, able to increase the broadcasting and telecom markets and renew the business model of television. For example, pre-commercial and commercial services using DVB-H networks are being rolled-out in South-East Asia, India and Africa, and Russia should start soon with a commercial service. Uruguay, who chose DVB-T and DVB-H six months ago, is already rolling-out - as the first country in Latin America - a mobile broadcasting trial in Punta del Este! These countries understand how important it is for their local industries and for their consumers that their mobile television services use an open technology and a technology that will be deployed throughout the European Single market, as the choice of DVB means the possibility of economies of scale, an optimal use of frequencies and the possibility to produce local applications such as software.
But in these countries as in the EU, the take-off of mobile television can be slowed down by regulatory hurdles or uncertainties, as for instance a too restrictive legal separation between the broadcasting and the telecom businesses. I will explain later what we are doing in the EU to reduce these legal obstacles, but I believe that it is of outmost importance to increase the regulatory dialogue between the European Union and third countries and exchange good practices on the regulatory approach of convergence, including on mobile broadcasting and television using the internet protocol. I will therefore present in June a Communication dealing with the international dimension of our information society policy that will propose to further develop this regulatory dialogue as part of a renewed approach to the international dimension of our policies.
What remains to be done in the implementation of our mobile broadcasting strategy?
First, for the main DVB-H patent holders, be they manufacturers or not, time has now come to finalize an agreement over the licensing terms and conditions and the constitution of the patent pool. Two elements here are important: abiding to the FRAND - fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory - principles and making sure that the IPR costs are reasonable, thus enabling the wide adoption of the technology for the benefit of consumers. I expect from the main players concerned and the patent pool facilitator to make these licensing terms public in the very next few weeks.
Second, digital rights management systems for mobile use based on open technologies should be promoted by the DVB-H community. I believe that the choice of an open standard for the transmission of mobile broadcasting signal should be reflected as well at the level of the rights management technology. A lack of certainty understandably will make the content industry wary about providing mobile TV services with their best offerings, whereas successful mobile TV offers require the coexistence of free and protected content. I therefore call on all the players of the mobile broadcasting value chain to come rapidly with a proposal for an open technology for mobile broadcasting rights management, so that I do not need to take this in hands as I had to do with the transmission technology last summer.
Third, as I announced at the Telecom Council in December, my services, working closely with the Member States and the mobile TV community, will provide within the next few months guidance on authorisation regimes and best practice examples for a light-touch regulatory regime for mobile TV. We cannot allow commercial launches to be delayed because of legal vacuums or overly burdensome regulation. In my view, the granting of authorisations should be made in such a way that it encourages cooperation between broadcasters, mobile service operators and operators of transmission networks. Mobile broadcasting naturally complements 3G and gives to telecom companies new business opportunities. At the same time, the broadcasters must feel secure with this additional platform and not threatened in their business. For these reasons, I strongly believe that the business model for mobile television is a cooperative model – obviously in full respect of competition law. I also firmly believe that this is not the right time for imposing must carry-obligations on mobile TV - let's allow first of all this market to take off and then come back to this when there will be a significant part of the population using these new services.
Fourth, an adequate allocation of frequencies for mobile broadcasting services is needed in the UHF band. I will come back to this issue when introducing the EU strategy on digital dividend.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Commercial mobile broadcasting services using the open standard DVB-H will be in place in European countries such as France, Finland, Austria, Estonia and Switzerland in 2008, as is already the case in Italy. Many other countries worldwide are going to share our choice and I am convinced that we are going to create a new, immense market for this open technology of the DVB family of standards.
Speaking about the DVB family: the European Commission is looking with a strong interest at the evolution of DVB-H developed for satellite transmission of mobile television and called DVB-SH. Indeed, as we see from the examples of South Korea and Japan, mobile television via satellite appears to be a promising addition to the forthcoming terrestrial services, possibly contributing also to a cross border offer of programmes. For mobile TV via satellite as for terrestrial mobile TV, the European Commission supports open standards. Contrary to its main competitors from Asian countries, DVB-SH offers the advantages of an open standard – such as flexibility and affordable prices – and the advantages of being a member of the DVB family, thus benefiting from the incomparable experience of DVB members for building reliable worldwide technologies.
Let's push more actively for DVB technologies worldwide!
Ladies and gentlemen,
During the two days of this DVB World Conference, you are going to debate over the ways convergence is changing broadcasting. Although convergence takes place more rapidly in developed economies, this is a worldwide trend: the transition from analogue TV to digital TV is taking place everywhere, the question of interoperability concerns consumers on all continents, the penetration of mobile and IP-based technologies is general. This gives rise to a fierce competition between open and proprietary solutions and a fierce competition between companies from various parts of the world and between governments from various parts of the world. The DVB family of standards, notably DVB-T, has been quite successful so far in this commercial competition. But we are right now in the middle of a battle in Latin America on the future technology for TV transmission. My services are working actively with leading members of the DVB coalition to convince countries such as Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia to make the choice – as did Uruguay last year - of DVB as an open standard, to the further development of which their universities, research centres and companies will be able to contribute. We are working hard to convince these countries to make the choice of DVB-T and DVB-H as technologies enabling better than their competitors the rollout of interactive value-added services – healthcare, education, public administration, etc. – and ensuring the full complementarily of terrestrial and handheld television services. This choice would enable these countries to take advantage of economies of scale that only DVB offers and give a strong, positive signal to the EU at a moment where we are preparing the Lima Summit and willing to step up our cooperation with this part of the world, for which the EU has become a main and sometimes the main market for export.
In Asia as well, we must keep promoting the open technologies of the DVB family. Although ASEAN has already recognised the incomparable qualities of DVB-T for the transition to digital television in this region, we must maintain our efforts; keep the momentum at a time where tests are still being conducted as is the case in the Philippine. Particularly with India, which is progressively opening its broadcasting market, we have a tremendous challenge ahead of us – I will therefore go to India next week and put forward the case of the open technologies of the DVB family, while proposing to increase our regulatory cooperation.
It is crucial to keep pushing for open standards worldwide! For instance, I wish that both the EU and European companies actively follow-up the partnership of results agreed with Africa during the Africa-EU Lisbon summit, and which includes a strong information society dimension. Mobile and satellite technologies born from the DVB project will obviously play a key role here.
Creating a win/win situation for the digital dividend
Let me now turn to the historic opportunity we have today in Europe with the switch off of the analogue TV signal, that is already completed in some Member States and is progressing well in the EU Single market, with the clear target of 2012. Let me say by the way that this smooth but swift transition is grandly facilitated by the choice of DVB-T and the economies of scale it allows: in Mexico, for example, where another technology has been chosen, the switch off is scheduled for 2021 (meaning a long and costly time of simulcast!) and in Brazil the set-top-boxes corresponding to the technology chosen are so costly that the switch off of the analogue signal will not be feasible for decades!
As regards the transition to digital television in the European Union, and while this is for each Member State to choose the pace of this transition, I stand for a short time of simulcast, as the DVB-T standard allows a cheap transition for all citizens and as the digital dividend resulting from the switch off will create a major boost to wireless communications, including broadcasting applications. Even before 2012, the high-quality radio spectrum that will become progressively available in Europe should be used in the interest of our citizens and consumers. On this issue, we should avoid useless disputes between broadcasters and telecom / wireless companies and look at how to create a win – win situation.
This is in my view the sense of the Commission strategy adopted in November on reaping the full potential of the digital dividend in Europe. Our proposal is for the EU to adopt a coherent framework with common objectives between Member States, allowing more transmission capacity and more protection against interference by increasing spectrum management efficiency beyond what can be achieved on national level, and more opportunities for economies of scale in the Single market and cross-border services. The message is: we can do more with the same spectrum if we cooperate!
Ladies and gentlemen,
The open DVB family of technologies has proven to be very dynamic over the last 15 years and I firmly believe that being based on open standards is a major reason for this dynamism. Partly or largely developed thanks to the support of the EU Framework programmes for research and development, DVB-H, DVB-SH, DVB-T2, DVB-S2 as members of the DVB family of standards are answering the needs of convergence, they are accompanying the modernisation of the broadcasters and logically they are winning markets worldwide.
But we cannot reduce our efforts and it is important for the DVB Project to keep giving strong and clear messages on open standards. For its part, the European Commission intends to keep pushing for open technologies in Europe and worldwide to deliver audiovisual contents as well as other creative contents. Therefore, in addition to the EU strategy for mobile television, the question of open standards and interoperability is also an important part of the Creative Content Online strategy launched in January by the Commission. And indeed, many of the more than 700 contributions to the recent public consultation preparing a Commission proposal for a Recommendation of content online consider open standards to be the best choice for the convergent media landscape.
I wish you fruitful discussions during DVB World 2008!