Open Standards and Interoperability in EU Digital TV: Economics and Policy Issues
26 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2009
Date Written: December 20, 2008
The quest for interoperability of interactive TV has been a major concern of the EU Institutions. Its policy foundations were built on the enabling role of open standards, whose peculiar standardization process should guarantee affordable and widespread intellectual property rights. After having received considerable public support and financial funds, the interactive TV roll-out appears disappointing, and the diffusion of the main concerned standard, the multimedia home platform, stagnates. We conduct a comprehensive analysis of the main market facts and passages of interactive TV policy, to derive a multifaceted assessment of its technological, economic and institutional drivers. Several important issues stand out. Besides the inner complexity of the policy, a few normative inconsistencies and conflicting aims adversely impacted its feasibility. Several logical ambiguities also dampened the correct choice of instruments. In particular, the existing literature clarifies two main points: open standards cannot be uncritically assimilated to open source software, and the role of open standards along the broadcasting value chain is largely unexplored. Consequently, their effects here might differ from those experienced in traditional information and communication technologies markets. Finally, a certain evidence of regulatory capture of the EU policy-maker emerges.
Keywords: digital TV, interoperability
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