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Does terrestrial television broadcasting have a future?

This was the question posed to the delegates of the EBU 18th Technical Assembly in Zagreb yesterday. 

At the WRC-12 international conference in February this year a large slice of the spectrum used for television broadcasting in the analogue age was also assigned to ’wireless broadband services’ in Europe, from 2015. This has set European broadcasters on edge about their future. Pearse O’Donohue, Head of the Radio Spectrum Policy Unit, European Commission, who manages the Radio Spectrum Policy Group, addressing the EBU Technical Assembly in Zagreb this morning, offered some comfort.

“Terrestrial television broadcasting would only be superseded by a wireless broadband system if an equally efficient and free media delivery means were available to the citizen” , Mr O’Donohue explained. He also stressed that the current stage is one of discussion about options. He pointed out that there were four things that could be done with the 700MHz band: use it all for broadcasting, use it all for broadband, share the spectrum between broadcasting and broadband, or develop a ‘converged’ system that does both. The next stage was, Mr O’Donohue said, to discuss these four options with the whole industry – including the EBU.

He asked the EBU and its members to be innovative, and to bear in mind the great potential value to society of wireless broadband. But one thing he asked broadcasters to remember is “sticking your head in the sand is not a good strategy”.