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EBU calls for DTT spectrum safeguards

As the European Commission’s public consultation on the Lamy Report on the future use of the UHF band (470-790 MHz) closes, the EBU is renewing its call to safeguard the interests of TV viewers in the EU by offering long-term guarantees for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

The Commission sought to collect views on the report’s strategic recommendations on a long-term policy strategy for the future use of the UHF band, which is essential for the broadcast of free-to-air DTT.

The future of radio spectrum is central to the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy. The Commission will soon issue a draft EU position for WRC-15. Next year, a proposal for a new Radio Spectrum Policy Programme is expected, with preparatory work – which includes the Lamy Report and the ensuing consultation – already under way.

The EBU notes that DTT is the most popular TV platform in Europe, reaching 100 million households and 250 million viewers. It is an essential, innovative platform for meeting the universal obligations of public service broadcasters and delivering content to mass audiences.

In its response to the consultation, the EBU highlighted several key conclusions from the Lamy Report, in particular that: “In most EU Member States DTT represents the backbone of the European audiovisual model. Due to its characteristics of delivering high-quality TV programmes (the so-called linear TV services) to mass audiences and ensuring universal and free-to-air access for citizens, it will continue to play an essential role as a major distribution platform for the foreseeable future. Its sustainable development is dependent on spectrum in the UHF band, which gives it capacity to further innovate and develop and thus to remain viable and competitive.”

“As the Commission is developing a long-term strategy for the future use of the UHF frequency band, we emphasise that this band is the only globally harmonised spectrum for DTT and is crucial for the provision of free-to-air TV services,” stressed EBU Technical Director Simon Fell. “It is vital that the EU strategy provides long-term certainty of spectrum access for DTT in order to facilitate investment and the future viability of the terrestrial broadcasting platform. This certainty should be safeguarded in the relevant EU legislation, including the future Radio Spectrum Policy Programme, and the EU policy objectives for the ITU WRC-15 and subsequent WRCs,” he stated.

“The EBU is concerned about recommendations that the 700 MHz band be released by 2020 with the flexibility of +/- two years. This is too early for a mandatory EU deadline because the transition of DTT out of the 700 MHz band must take the situations of individual member states into account,” he declared.

With its members, the EBU is actively engaged on spectrum issues and represents its members at various international bodies responsible for spectrum allocation, including the European Union, the ITU and the CEPT. Coinciding with the end of the consultation into the Lamy report, the EBU has joined an association of businesses and employees from the creative and cultural industries to form the Wider Spectrum Group calling for spectrum policy to be a pillar of an ambitious industrial strategy for Europe’s creative and cultural industries.

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