null Communications Minister aims at more efficient use of frequencies

Communications Minister aims at more efficient use of frequencies

Press release 23.01.2009 12.46 fi sv en

Ms Suvi Lindén, Minister of Communications, is seeking a more flexible and efficient use of frequencies. She believes it is no longer relevant to stake out frequencies for one purpose and one operator for 15 years.

Minister Lindén sees the secondary market in frequencies as a good opportunity for greater efficiency. They would be permitted in connection with the auctioning of licences. Auctioning will be a way to experiment with one frequency range in Finland for the first time at the end of the current year.

Lindén made her views known at a Viestintäfoorumi (Communications Forum) on 21 January in Helsinki, organised by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

According to her, there would also be something new in the principles of technology and service independence that could be tried and applied to auctioned frequencies as widely as possible. This way a frequency would not be tied to just one purpose. Efficient use of frequencies might also be controlled by frequency tariffs.

Lindén focused attention on the disparity between the frequency tariffs now being paid by different operators. For example, mobile communications and television had had almost the same number of frequencies assigned to them, but the sums paid by telecommunication operators to the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority for their frequencies are many times those from television companies.

"There is no rational argument for this disparity," remarks Lindén.

"I have asked the Spectrum Management Advisory Committee to make a proposal concerning how frequency tariffs might be made fairer."

Is auctioning the solution
for TV programme licences too?

Communications Minister Lindén also thinks that a shake-up is called for in television programme licensing policy. At present television is still closely tied to terrestrial distribution, which is controlled by means of licences. It is difficult to break into the sector, just as it is to adjust to market fluctuations and varying demand.

"Licence policy needs above all to be flexible. Competition must be promoted and it must be made easier to break into the sector," says Lindén.

"The Ministry of Transport and Communications is currently looking into how auctions might also be used in the granting of programme licences. This still does not mean that licences would be auctioned in 2016, for example, but nor can this option be ruled out altogether," remarks the Minister.

Using licences that are strictly tied to content to control pay TV and radio has proven particularly difficult. Operators, and viewers too apparently, want flexibility when it comes to content policy and the chance to respond to changes in demand without government intervention.

"A more flexible licensing policy could be tried out in practice with the round of radio licences in 2011," predicts Lindén.

But there is another side to the issue. The uncontrolled commercialisation of licensing policy might well lead to a situation where domestic production will fall into decline, with a lot more space for international entertainment to take over and more and more programmes in the hands of the powerful.

"For this reason, at least, over the next 10 years we have to ensure there is a sufficiently wide range of programmes freely available and we also have to provide scope for the delivery of programmes that have no commercial interest."

Further information:

Mr Aleksi Randell, Special Adviser to the Minister of Communications,
tel. +358 9 160 28324, +358 400 500 822