Problems with Spain's mobile TV

Spain's mobile TV is not taking off due to economic and political problems. The passivity of politicians and fights among the broadcasters and telecommunication operators to control it are the main causes this business will be far from profitable in Spain in the foreseeable future.

Spain's Ministry of Industry forecast several years ago made a call for a series of frequencies in order to launch the DVB-H standard compatible with that of DTT's and also standarized by the European Commision. So there already was a part of the spectrum booked as a MUX to allocate around 20 mobile TV channels.

But the law in which this regulation would be included died in the last political term even without being discussed in the Parliament. A new law would be necessary but the future Audiovisual General Law the Ministry is preparing which could very well include mobile TV is going slowly and could be ready too late once the business opportunities are over. There are some 50 million mobile handsets in Spain.

The present economic crisis is also forcing Spanish broadcasters to focus on their profitable conventional businesses rather than on new technologies, especially as the business model of mobile TV is not clear at all in general, Spain included.

Broadcasters would like mobile TV to be a "spin off" of conventional TV with the advantage in this case that there is a higher number of TV receivers than in the conventional TV case. So broadcasters are proposing a business model based on advertising.

But telecommunication operators, which by the way are the ones financing the terminals used by the clients, would want a system based on pay TV with subscriptions of pay-per-event.

According to the Telecommunications Market Comission - the association regulating this market in Spain - at the end of last September there were only 271,819 clients to pay mobile TV in Spain.

And the last negative point is the plan by the European Commision to tax mobile phones with a 14% rise in their final price which would turn them more expensive and so less demanded by the public.