Advanced Television

Broadcasting Unions unite against TV spectrum release

July 23, 2014

By Colin Mann

The World Broadcasting Unions (WBU) – the coordinating body for broadcasting unions who represent broadcaster networks across the globe – has released an official joint position on radio spectrum allocation, stating their support to maintain the allocation of UHF frequencies (470 to 694 MHz) currently used for terrestrial TV broadcasting.

The WBU says that broadcasters from all over the world are resolved about the importance of the UHF band because it provides the only set of air waves which are globally available for digital terrestrial broadcasting. “Long-term certainty about the availability of the UHF band is also necessary to ensure continued investment and innovation by broadcasters. Whether or not 4K television will be available to the general public will, for example, heavily depend on the sufficient availability of radio spectrum for television broadcasting,” it advises.

The WBU statement also outlines support for the preservation of the C-band frequencies (3.7 to 4.2 GHz), which is used for fixed satellite services essential to broadcasters’ operations around the world.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is one of eight broadcasting unions that make up the WBU. Regional differences on the use of spectrum can make agreeing on a common position difficult, but the unions are united in this statement in the run up to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) World Radio Conference in 2015.

The WBU’s Technical Committee has already expressed concerns that the release of more TV broadcasting spectrum to mobile operators will cause serious problems for many broadcasters, limiting both the content and quality of transmission. Additionally, there could be unwanted social and economic consequences if free-to-air broadcasting becomes severely limited.

The EBU notes that Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the European Commission, is making spectrum management one of his top priorities in his new term, having recognised that airwaves are a pillar of the digital economy and an indispensable means of delivering media to consumers.

Recommendations for future spectrum policy in Europe are being discussed in different European forums, with EBU aiming to protect the rights of the 250 million Europeans that rely on spectrum to watch terrestrial TV. Public service broadcasters are concerned that the current discussions is are being driven by flawed predications – namely that it is necessary to free up the UHF band allotted to TV broadcasting to satisfy mobile data usage. The EBU recently released a fact sheet to debunk such myths.

The broadcasting unions who belong to the WBU are the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the EBU, the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB/AIR), the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA) and the Organizacion de Telecomunicaciones Iberoamericanas (OTI).


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