Regulation Of Mobile TV (reg)

This is a pretty interesting (if dry) article about the status of mobile TV in Canada (based on the MobiTV service, not a broadcast service) and whether it needs to be regulated by the CRTC (a free registration is required). It’s an important subject that needs to be considered…TV is one of the more regulated of mediums in most countries, normally to ensure sufficient local content. While TV over the internet is not regulated in Canada as part of a new media exemption there is some question as to whether mobile TV is delivered over the internet. Technically it is, but it has been argued that if customers can only get access to a few channels they don’t really have ‘access’ to the internet, so MobiTV should be considered as a broadcast technology.

If the CRTC decides that mobile broadcasting is not covered by the new media exemption order, the wireless carriers may be found to be operating as unlicensed broadcasters, in contravention of the Broadcasting Act. If such is held to be the case, wireless carriers may be required to pay CRTC licensing fees currently payable by conventional broadcasters and may also be subject to various restrictions including content requirements and Canadian ownership rules. Such regulatory requirements would likely lead to higher subscription fees for users and, consequently, to a slower consumer adoption rate of Mobile TV.

On the other hand, if Mobile TV remains unregulated, Bell, Rogers, Telus and others will be free to further drive the wireless technology revolution, unimpeded by regulatory red tape. As a result, consumers would likely benefit from lower subscription fees and the regulatory environment would be favourable for Mobile TV to prosper, albeit likely with significantly less Canadian content than that viewed by Canadian consumers on conventional television.

Mobile broadcasting TV using DVB-H or MediaFLO would be different again, having no chance to be considered to be internet-based. This is a question that all countries are going to face, and not just in relation to mobile TV but to all mobile content — should it be regulated? And if so, how?