Dated: 21 November 2007
Heralding the next milestone in Singapore’s broadcasting landscape, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) is conducting a public consultation from today till 4 January 2008 to seek feedback on the Authority’s proposed policy and regulatory framework for mobile TV services.
The move to facilitate the commercial deployment of mobile TV in Singapore – coming soon after the successful commercial deployment of High-Definition TV this year - is in line with the nation’s goal to develop Singapore as a Global Media City and a test-bed for new media services.
As part of MDA’s efforts to nurture a pro-business environment and enable more media choices for consumers, industry players and the public will be invited to comment on areas such as technology standards, licensing framework, market structure issues, as well as content and advertising regulation.
Ms Ling Pek Ling, MDA’s Director of Media Policy, said: “The rollout of mobile TV has begun to gain momentum across the world. Countries such as Italy, Japan and South Korea have started to offer commercial mobile TV services while Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia are currently conducting trials. With this global development in the broadcast industry as well as strong interest shown by the local media players, it is timely for Singapore to put in place a clear policy framework that will drive investment and innovation and enable mobile TV service providers to offer attractive services to consumers.”
Current global developments have highlighted the tremendous potential in the delivery of content to mobile devices, such as mobile handsets, to further develop the broadcast media industry. The European Commission has forecast that there will be between 200 million and 500 million mobile TV customers globally by 20111. The Multimedia Research Group estimates that the global mobile TV market will exceed US$24b worldwide annually by 2011 of which US$5b will come from China/Far East2.
Mobile TV presents a new platform for content producers to showcase their products and generate sales, whilst offering new business and investment opportunities to both local and foreign media companies. Consumers will benefit from having more media choices and varied content and services, and the ability to watch their favourite TV programmes anytime, anywhere.
As the mobile TV is a personal device and such services are likely to see high adoption among young users and children, there could be concerns about the young being exposed to harmful or sensitive content. The current fixed TV services (eg. MediaCorp, SCV, SingTel) are regulated under the TV Programme Code. MDA proposes that mobile TV services be subjected to the same regime, ie. television programmes offered on mobile TV should comply with the TV Programme Code.
The regulations do not apply to mobile phone services such as MMS (multimedia message service). MDA encourages innovation in the development of interactive services that can integrate television programmes with telecommunication services.
To facilitate the growth of this industry, MDA has formulated a market-driven, light-touch and pro-enterprise regulatory framework to attract more players into the Singapore market, as well as encourage innovation and competition. As such, MDA is proposing to give operators the flexibility to deploy a standard that best suits their business case. MDA is also proposing to adopt a technology and platform neutral position, i.e. regulate mobile TV services equally regardless of the technology platform (e.g. 3G, DVB-H, DMB) to deliver their services.
MDA is prepared to issue up to four multiplex licences by tender. Each multiplex can support three to 20 high-quality TV channels.
The policy and regulatory framework for mobile TV was formulated based on an in-depth study carried out by Indepen Consulting Pte Ltd which was commissioned by MDA this year to conduct a study on international developments, best practices and issues related to mobile TV.
Please refer to Annex A for a summary of the proposals that MDA is seeking public feedback on the proposed policy and regulatory framework for mobile TV in Singapore. Full details of the proposed framework are available at www.mda.gov.sg/RegulationsAndLicenses/Consultation/Pages/ConsultationPapers.aspx
The public can submit their comments to MDA at firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 12pm, 4 January 2008.
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About the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA)
Formed in 2003, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) plays a vital role in transforming Singapore into a Global Media City and positioning it at the forefront of the digital media age. MDA spearheads initiatives that promote developments in film, video, television, radio, publishing, music, games, animation, media services and Interactive Digital Media. At the same time, in ensuring clear and consistent regulatory policies and guidelines, MDA helps to foster a pro-business environment for industry players and increase media choices for consumers. For more information, visit www.mda.gov.sg and www.smf.sg.
Annex A – Summary of key proposals for public feedback on the proposed policy and regulatory framework for mobile TV services in Singapore.
Not to mandate any particular standard for MTVS in Singapore (Section 2.3)
Currently, there is no single globally-mandated standard for MTVS3. A technology- and platform-neutral framework would help the industry to grow as each MTVS operator could then decide on the most effective and feasible standard to adopt in order to grow their MTVS business and best serve consumers.
To impose minimum network coverage requirements of 95 per cent on multiplex operators (Section 2.4)
MDA proposes to require multiplex4 operators to provide at least 95 per cent network coverage to ensure consumers can receive service in most parts of Singapore. This matches IDA’s requirement of 95 per cent street-level coverage on mobile operators and will facilitate the integration with the mobile telecommunications and television in the provision of interactive services to consumers.
Not to mandate any QoS on picture quality and indoor coverage at this instance but will reserve the right to do so when necessary (Section 2.4).
It is in the operators’ interest to provide good picture quality and signal strength. Any requirement on the picture quality and signal strength at this stage could limit the flexibility of the mobile TV operator to develop the quality of its content. MDA also recognizes that huge investments may be required to provide indoor coverage and proposes to let operators make these investments according to market demand.
To require both MTVS operators and cellular mobile TV operators to obtain broadcast services licenses before transmitting TV services over their networks (Section 3.1)
Since MTVS and cellular mobile TV services have the same feel and look, MDA proposes that cellular mobile operators – SingTel, StarHub and M1 – should need to obtain the same broadcast service licence as any MTVS operator to provide television content over their networks. This creates a level playing field in the mobile TV industry.
To adapt the two-tier IPTV framework to regulate the MTVS operators and cellular mobile TV operators and to regulate them under the niche licensing framework (Section 3.1)
As mobile TV services are in their infancy, MDA proposes to license both MTVS operators and cellular mobile TV operators under the niche licensing framework to facilitate the growth of their services.
To issue 10-year multiplex licences, with an option to renew for a further five years, via a comparative tender process. To issue five-year niche broadcasting service licences (Sections 3.2 and 3.3)
The 10+5-year duration provides sufficient time for multiplex operators to recover their investment and operating cost, as well as stabilise their business. In line with the current niche licensing framework, the licence duration for the broadcasting service licence will be set at five years, renewable.
To require all multiplex licensees to offer capacity to third-parties on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions (Section 4.4)
This facilitates MTVS service providers’ negotiation with multiplex operators to gain access to the multiplexes while leaving room for commercial negotiation.
Not to impose advertising revenue cap (Section 4.5)
MDA proposes not to limit the percentage of revenues that mobile TV subscription service providers can earn from advertising, to enable them to develop innovative business models.
To apply MDA's programming codes for fixed TV services (FTA content, subscription content and other kinds of content) (Section 5.2)
The personalised nature of mobile TV and potential high adoption rate among young users for mobile services suggests the need to regulate mobile in the same way as traditional fixed TV services and protect consumers from harmful or sensitive content, e.g. pornographic content or content that incites racial/religious hatred.
Not to impose public service broadcasting (PSB) obligations (Section 5.3.1)
Mobile TV operators’ costs may increase if they are required to carry PSB programmes and this could have a negative impact on mobile TV viability.
Not to impose must-carry obligations on commercial mobile TV operators (Section 5.3.2)
Must-carry obligations could result in opportunity costs as the capacity used to carry FTA channels could be utilised to provide new content instead. This could seriously impact the viability of a subscription-based mobile TV service.
To require mobile TV operators not to block access by their users to any local FTA channels offered by MediaCorp using compatible technologies (Section 5.3.2)
This proposal will enable consumers to receive FTA channels (if available) if their service provider is using a technology that is compatible with the technology adopted by MediaCorp.
To apply the current framework for advertising regulation (as specified in the MDA TV advertising and sponsorship codes and voluntary SCAP code and) to mobile TV services (Section 5.4)
Applying the current advertising regulatory framework to mobile TV services will protect the consumers’ interests and viewing pleasure as there will be fewer commercial interruptions.
3MTVS refers to mobile TV service which uses one-way point-to-multipoint radio transmission over a dedicated network which is separate from the cellular network.
4A multiplex is a collection of television programmes, radio and data services that are broadcast together in a digital signal which occupies one assigned frequency spectrum.