Commission issues guidelines to get Mobile TV on Europeans' mobile phones

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
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The European Commission has today taken a decisive step towards the promotion of competitive Mobile TV services in the EU. It has published a set of guidelines for the authorisation of Mobile TV to accelerate roll-out of the service across Europe. Mobile TV revenues worldwide are expected to reach more than €7.8 billion in 2013. The commercial services launched before summer 2008 in some European countries show that there is an increasing consumer demand: in the Netherlands alone, 10 000 users had already subscribed to the service at the beginning of autumn. Authorisations from Member States for Mobile TV services are needed before any commercial launches by operators. Along with the addition of the DVB-H standard to the EU list of official standards in March 2008 (IP/08/451), these guidelines underline the Commission’s strong commitment to the promotion of new services for European consumers.

“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. With predicted growth in sales during the Christmas period, many more Europeans should have the opportunity to watch TV on the go”, said Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms and Media Commissioner. “This is why we want to give Member States guidance on how to allow industry to get these innovative services on track as quickly and smoothly as possible. We stand for a collaborative approach between all actors involved including broadcasters, mobile operators and platforms operators, and we oppose heavy regulation or burdensome authorisation procedures for the introduction of Mobile TV in Europe.”

In close cooperation with Member States and industry, the Commission has identified the main principles which regulators and governments in the Member States should follow when authorising operators to provide Mobile TV services. The Commission today published these principles in a new Communication that will help Member States to make Mobile TV a reality and success for operators and consumers without delay.

To date, only a few Member States, such as Austria, Finland, France and Germany have adopted legislation for new Mobile TV services. The Commission’s guidelines aim to keep up the momentum for Mobile TV at EU-level, in order to create a coherent and favourable regulatory environment for take-off and take-up of this new service (IP/07/1118). The guidelines say that a straightforward, transparent and non discriminatory procedure for awarding licences is the key to a successful approach 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 for Mobile TV 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 Mobile TV 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 switch-over process from analogue to digital TV and the Telecoms reform (IP/08/1661) will facilitate access to new spectrum, which can be used for the provision of Mobile TV services.


In July 2007 the Commission proposed a strategy for promoting Mobile TV across Europe (IP/07/1118, MEMO/07/298). It included the use of the open standard DVB-H – which has been developed by the European industry, with the support of European research funds – as the common standard for terrestrial Mobile TV across Europe. In March 2008, the Commission endorsed the addition of DVB-H to the EU list of official standards (IP/08/451). DVB-H based commercial services are increasingly being adopted and implemented in other parts of the world, for instance in Morocco, Indonesia, Russia or Singapore. In addition, cross border Mobile TV services using satellite and the DVB-SH standard are likely to start as soon as 2009 in Europe and worldwide.

More: The Commission’s Communication on Mobile TV