World Broadcasting Unions (WBU) united in concerns for MPEG-4 licensing

21st May 2003

WBU, c/o NABA,
P.O. Box 500, Station A,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5W 1E6,
Tel: (416) 598-9877,
Fax: (416) 598-9774,
Web site:

For Immediate Release
May 21, 2003


Toronto – The World Broadcasting Unions 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.

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

The WBU-TC believes that current licensing arrangements for MPEG4 Visual will be a major deterrent to its use. Unlike the MPEG2 licensing, which is based on equipment fees (resulting in MPEG2 becoming a massive worldwide success) the MPEG4 Visual licensing calls for fees based on usage (costs per minute used or the number of subscribers) and to a lesser extent for equipment fees. These are to be charged according to distinctions of type of use and type of receiver.

For MPEG4 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.

The WBU-TC believes that:

  • License costs based on usage are a deterrent to use. 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.
  • Distinctions proposed based on the type of receiver will not be practical to implement. DTT and DAB services will be used for fixed, portable and mobile reception, and may be used in both pay and free-to-air modes. Convergence means that only equipment fees, independent of use, are practical.
  • 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.

Download a PDF of this press release: