Technical committees of WBU, NABA voice concern over MPEG-4 licensing proposal

The World Broadcasting Union has expressed its disapproval for the current licensing proposals for MPEG-4 which it says would erect a barrier to global adoption of the standard on a large scale.

Current licensing calls for flexible fees based on factors like the number of minutes used and the number of subscribers and to a lesser extent equipment fees. According to a statement issued by the WBU Technical Committee, broadcasters will select technology based on a number of factors, including licensing costs.

“Video compression technology is a major factor for broadcasters, and other content service providers in the consideration of new services,” the statement said. “Their decision about which technology to choose is influenced by performance, availability, and licensing costs.”

MPEG-2, which has gained broad acceptance throughout the world, bases its licensing requirements on equipment fees. The MPEG-4 proposal calls for licensing to be based on type of use, type of receiver, duration and number of users.

“For MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264), an important successor technology, a licensing structure will be decided in the near future and it must not be a barrier to massive global adoption,” said the committee’s statement.

“License costs based on usage are a deterrent to use,” it added. “The more content the system is used to carry, the more it will cost. License regimes need to be arranged to encourage use, not to discourage it.”

“The broadcast community welcomes and encourages open standards, but license holders need to recognize that license cost is a factor in the choice of system. Licensing for open compression systems must encourage their use, not discourage it,” it concluded.

The World Broadcasting Union’s Technical Committee (WBU-TC) is the collective technical body for the world's eight broadcasting unions. It reflects the opinions of the world's national broadcasters across five continents.

In a separate statement, the Technical Committee of the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA-TC) “expressed full support” for the WBU-TC and its concerns over MPEG-4 licensing.

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