WBU-TC: $2500-per-encoder fee may be deal killer for MPEG-4 AVC

The World Broadcasting Unions Technical Committee (WBU-TC) has unanimously concluded that the MPEG-4 AVC licensing terms remain extremely onerous for free-to-air broadcasters, despite recent movement from MPEG LA to lower licensing fees.

If MPEG LA does not exempt free-to-air broadcasters from charges for use of MPEG-4 AVC, the WBU-TC may recommend that major world broadcasters avoid use of MPEG-4 AVC encoding.

Late last year, MPEG LA made public its plans for licensing the use of H.264/MPEG-4 to free-to-air broadcasters. The plan called for broadcasters to pay a fee of $10,000 per year for market with more than 100,000 households. Responding to adverse reaction from broadcasters to the plan, MPEG LA revised its licensing stance on May 18 by giving broadcasters the option of paying a one-time fee of $2500 for each encoder used to transmit MPEG-4 AVC video for free TV service.

Despite this concession, the WBU-TC finds the licensing fee to be too burdensome and suggests that free-to-air broadcasters should be exempted from charges for use of MPEG-4 AVC.

Short of that, it may recommend against the use of MPEG-4 AVC.

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