French mobile TV at the starting line

From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris

The French broadcasting regulator CSA has issued a call for candidates for national personal mobile TV services. The services are to be carried on the M7 multiplex using the DVB-H standard. The deadline for applications is 15 January 2008. M7 covers 70 urban areas and has a capacity for 16 channels, three of which will be reserved for the public sector broadcasters. The call therefore concerns 13 private services, which can be general interest or themed, free or pay. Candidates must undertake to cover a minimum of 30 per cent of the population within three years and 60 percent within six years.

Some of the M7 spectrum will be used for interactive services and a number of radio stations (5 to 9), but the CSA will reconsider radio as a function of the way bands III and L are used and also after a possible public consultation.

Under the CSA's timetable, it will publish the list of candidates whose applications are valid in February 2008. Following this the CSA will interview the candidates in public and issue its list of accepted candidates in April. The authorizations will be issued in June. After that, the successful candidates will have two months in which to agree among themselves to constitute multiplexes and select companies to provide the technical services.

The commercial launch will therefore not be until the end of 2008, hence missing the Beijing Olympics. However, services may broadcast during the Olympics on an “experimental” basis.

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