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WBU-TC expresses concerns about MPEG-4 AVC licensing

The World Broadcasting Unions Technical Committee (WBU-TC) has issued several comments on the licensing arrangements for MPEG-4 Visual. The committee objects to the concept of fees based on usage. The committee also hopes that the licensing structure for MPEG-4 AVC would not be a barrier to massive global adoption.

Last November, MPEG LA issued a news release entitled "MPEG LA announces terms of joint H.264/MPEG-4 AVC patent license" which indicated that free-to-air broadcasters would be required to pay participation fees amounting to $10,000 per year for markets of greater than 100,000 households. On May 18, MPEG LA announced that the terms of this license will be modified to include the option of paying a one-time fee of $2500 for each encoder used in transmitting MPEG-4 AVC video for free broadcast television.

Despite this concession, the WBU-TC has unanimously concluded that the MPEG-4 AVC licensing terms remain extremely onerous for free-to-air broadcasters. The WBU-TC suggests that free-to-air broadcasters should be exempted from charges for use of MPEG-4 AVC. In the absence of such an exemption, the WBU-TC may recommend that the world's major broadcasters should not use MPEG-4 AVC.