EBU and ABU United Call to Safeguard Spectrum for Future Broadcasting

EBU President Jean-Paul Philippot, Director General Ingrid Deltenre & ABU Secretary General Dr Javad Mottaghi (ABU)

Leaders of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) have demanded global action to protect spectrum to guarantee the future of broadcasting.

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The call was made on the closing day of the 50th Anniversary Annual Assembly of the ABU (28 October) which was hosted in Macau by the public service broadcaster of the China Special Administrative Region Macau, Teledifusao de Macau, S.A.R. (TDM).

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EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre told delegates that 250 million Europeans rely on spectrum to watch digital terrestrial TV (DTT) – where the signal is received through a TV’s aerial.

“DTT remains the backbone to public TV access,” Ms Deltenre said. “We cannot allow the mobile industry’s insatiable appetite for spectrum resources to highjack this precious resource.”

Ms Deltenre was supported by ABU Secretary General Dr. Javad Mottaghi who highlighted the essential service terrestrial TV plays in regional areas of Asia Pacific.

“Terrestrial broadcasting remains a crucial tool in emergency situations,” said Dr Mottaghi. “It is often the only technology which continues to function and can reach a mass audience despite difficult external conditions. Terrestrial television is the cornerstone of the broadcast industry and its survival is essential to the region’s people.”

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ABU President Cho Dae-hyun, who also heads South Korea’s national broadcaster KBS said spectrum is crucial to the future of terrestrial broadcasting.

“The Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union is working closely with the EBU to protect spectrum,” said Mr Dae-hyun. “Without securing the new media platform, we cannot consider the launch of UHD broadcast service. Quick and firm global action should be taken to safeguard this resource for digital TV broadcasting.”

With preparations well underway for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conference on spectrum WRC-15 administrations around the world are taking positions on the assignment of spectrum to different applications.

The broadcast industry has been working with administrations to illustrate the efficiency of modern DTT networks, the strong demand for DTT services, and the evidence that the spectrum assignments currently reserved for DTT should not change.

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Spectrum Tension: Broadcasters vs Mobile Operators

A comment by Ashley Dove, General Manager at Vislink
“Faced with spiralling data rates yet limited spectrum availability, today’s broadcasters are in a position where they need to do more with less. This is nothing new as the spectrum crunch has been an issue for some time. However, when you consider that spectrum allocated to broadcasters is now under renewed threat from mobile operators, the broadcast environment has become more challenging than ever before. 

“The mobile industry’s latest intrusion on the broadcast space comes at a time when broadcasters are increasingly reliant on the flexibility offered by wireless equipment. The ability to transmit footage from anywhere, be that a 200mph race car, or up close and personal at a major news event, has become the attention grabber they are looking for. However, with broadcasters now also expected to satisfy growing demand for HD video, and with 4K just around the corner, the further loss of already limited spectrum resources presents a fresh set of obstacles.

“4K is roughly four times the quality of 1080p HD, so it’s no surprise that 4K requires a bigger slice of spectrum for wireless transmission. However, spectrum is a finite resource and with mobile operators steadily encroaching on the allocation for digital TV broadcast, allocating more to cater for 4K video isn’t always possible.  

“While it’s essential to put safeguards in place to protect spectrum allocated for broadcast, it’s also important to make existing equipment as efficient as possible so as not to overwhelm existing infrastructure. New encoding standards like H.265 will become crucial in the next five years, regardless of whether plans to protect broadcast spectrum are introduced.”

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