Mobile sector messaging EC

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BRUSSELS -- Key broadcasters, mobile operators and handset-makers have appealed to the European Commission to take a hands-off approach to the nascent mobile broadcasting sector, arguing that it does not need any targeted legislation at this stage.

The BBC, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Siemens, Nokia and other ICT and media companies urged the commission -- the European Union's executive body -- to allow the mobile TV sector to grow without hampering it with red tape. The EC is mulling special legislation for the sector, but the industry players fear this could strangle the new technology just as it emerges.

But while the group -- part of the European Mobile Broadcasting Council -- hopes to avoid specific mobile legislation at this stage, it did ask the EC to take account of the emerging technology when formulating other broadcast, media and copyright rules.

The EC set up the EMBC last year to provide advice on fostering mobile broadcasting in Europe. In its first report, due to be published today(friday), the EMBC said: "The Council believes that there is no urgent need for specific new EU regulation to foster the introduction and development of mobile broadcasting."

The best support that policymakers can offer is to promote interoperability, the EMBC said, adding that the current EU rules "are sufficient to ensure that interoperability objectives are met."

Mobile TV over cellular networks allows viewers to enjoy personalized, interactive TV with content specifically adapted to the mobile medium. In addition to mobility, it can deliver a variety of services including video-on-demand and live TV programs. The EMBC gathers industry players involved in the sector to offer a roadmap for introducing mobile broadcasting in Europe. But the focus has thus far been on standards and interoperability issues, aiming to minimize barriers between technologies and consumer devices.

The EMBC said that one of priorities for the sector is to secure frequencies from radio spectrum markets so that operators can use the frequencies for mobile TV.

They urged the EC to push EU national governments to open up the radio spectrum markets as soon as they can reap the "digital dividend" -- the freeing up of frequencies once analog TV signals switch to digital.

Access to spectrum could have "the greatest single effect on the introduction of mobile broadcasting," the EMBC said.

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