The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has welcomed the vote by the European Parliament’s Industry Committee on the long-term future of the UHF frequencies. The vote validates an EU interinstitutional agreement on access to UHF spectrum below 700 MHz for terrestrial TV broadcasting until at least 2030.
Public service media make their channels available on all TV platforms – DTT, satellite, cable and IP-based networks, notes the EBU. DTT, which relies on UHF spectrum, nevertheless remains the most effective means of ensuring that every citizen has access to free-to-air TV, it advises, adding that some 250 million people receive their television services through DTT in Europe.
“This agreement ensures that European audiences can continue benefiting from free-to-air TV reception at home, which is crucial to sustain the universality of public service media,” commented EBU Deputy Head of Brussels Office Wouter Gekiere. “At the same time, it puts Europe in the lead when it comes to harmonised spectrum for mobile: 1260 MHz will be available for mobile broadband, which is more than any other region in the world.”
“DTT broadcasting is indispensable,” declared EBU Head of Technology and Innovation Simon Fell. “There are no other technologies currently out there capable of replicating its advantages, both for viewers and broadcasters. Broadcasting directly connects over 250 million Europeans in their living rooms to European films, documentaries, series, news and sports.”
The text dismisses the idea to give ‘downlink-only’ access to mobile operators in the bands below 700 MHz, as originally proposed by the European Commission. This approach would have created long-term uncertainty for future innovation and investment in ‘free-to-air’ TV distribution.
EU Member states will also have the flexibility to set the clearance of the 700 MHz for mobile use to 2022 rather than 2020 if necessary and justified.
The final text of the Decision on the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band in the EU is expected to be published in April 2017, shortly after the formal approval of the text by the European Parliament’s plenary in the course of March 2017.