Mobile TV

Regulations relating to the use and Application Procedures and Criteria for Licensing Spectrum for the Provisions of Mobile Television Broadcasting Services

ICASA has published final regulations relating to the provision of Mobile Television services in South Africa. The process leading to the finalisation of these regulations was initiated by a Policy Directive issued by the Minister of Communications on 17 September 2007.

ICASA Mobile TV Regulations 2010
Reasons Document on Mobile Television Regulations April 2010

The purpose of these regulations is to
(a) provide a regulatory framework for the licensing of radio frequency spectrum within the designated range for the provision of mobile television broadcasting services; and
(b) provide for procedures and criteria for the awarding of radio frequency spectrum licences for the provision of mobile television services within the designated range.

The regulations apply to broadcasting service licensees who intend to apply for mobile television multiplexes to provide new broadcasting content.

The Mobile Television Regulations 2010 are particularly interesting to those looking for clues as to how ICASA intends to manage radio frequency spectrum.

“Use it or lose it”
The Regulations set out ICASA’s approach to efficient utilisation of radio frequency spectrum awarded for the provision of mobile TV services. Those assigned with such radio frequency licences will be required to utilise all the available capacity in the multiplex assigned to it within twelve months of the date on which the licence was issued. This period may be extended on application showing good cause.

If ICASA believes that the licensee has not complied with the above it may withdraw the unused spectrum in accordance with the provisions of sections 31(8), (9) and (10) of the ECA.

The Regulations also make it clear that holders of frequency licences may not sell or sub-let the spectrum assigned to them.

Assignment process
The Regulations also set out how the relevant spectrum is to be awarded once an ITA has been issued:
1. Applicants will need, firstly, to pre-qualify by showing that they have a minimum of 30% equity ownership by persons from “historically disadvantaged groups”.
2. Thereafter applicants are required to submit business undertakings, which, while they will not be used to evaluate the application, will constitute licence obligations where the applicant is awarded with a licence through the assignment process. The undertakings must relate to:
(a) The nature and extent of consumer benefits to be derived by the general public from award of the radio frequency spectrum licence to the applicant;
(b) The viability of the business plan of the applicant;
(c) The viability of the funding model proposed by the applicant;
(d) The viability and efficacy of the applicant’s technical plan; and,
(e) The experience, expertise and credibility of the applicant and/or its employees in business in general and in broadcasting in particular.

Details about the information required to be submitted are set out in the schedule to the Regulation.

Once the applicant has achieved the above then they are entitled to participate in the auction for the available spectrum at a reserve price stipulated in the applicable ITA.

The applicable ITA for frequency for the purpose of proving mobile television services was issued on 16 April 2010.

Related documents
Draft Regulations relating to the Use and to Application Procedures and Criteria for the Licensing of Radio Frequency Spectrum Licenses for Provision of Mobile Television Broadcasting Services (17 November 2009)

ITA for radio frequency spectrum licences for the provision of mobile digital video broadcasting services based on the DVB-H standard (withdrawn)

ICASA published a ITA for radio frequency spectrum licences for the provision of mobile digital video broadcasting services based on the DVB-H standard in December 2008. The initial focus was proposed as the JHB/PTA, Durban and Cape Town areas.

The ITA was open to holders of ECS and ECNS licences (noting the specific use to which the frequency must be put) – ICASA set out business models involving ECS or ECNS licensees leading a bid in conjunction with a licensed individual broadcasting services licensee.

Closing date for applications: 27 February 2009
Non-refundable application fee: R70 000
Download ITA

Applicants, aside from lifting their commercial skirts, were required to provide a detailed plan with timeframes for the roll-out of the mobile broadcasting service and the mobile DTT network to provide coverage at the main stadiums for the FIFA Confederation Cup in 2009 and the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010.

The ITA was withdrawn on 23 February 2009 – Notice of Withdrawal MDVBS ITA. No reasons were given in the notice but ITWeb has the story – Objection derails mobile TV invitation.