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Oct 08 2008

Naspers loses German mobile TV license

Published by at 8:44 am under Companies,Top Stories

The public administrator for mobile TV in Germany has ordered Mobile 3.0, a consortium consisting of German publishing houses Georg von Holtzbrinck and Burda and SA media group Naspers, to hand back the broadcast license for mobile TV it was awarded in January 2008, wrote Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) today.

Pilot runs for mobile TV launched by Mobile 3.0 in four German cities were also called off by the administrator, which said Mobile 3.0 must return the licenses by the end of October, or face legal action.

The body is eager to re-award the licenses, most likely to a new consortium consisting of the local communications company Deutsche Telekom and local mobile network operators. 

Efforts by FTD (and earlier efforts by me) to get comment from Mobile 3.0 and Naspers in Cape Town (the Naspers representative had already evacuated his Mobile 3.0 office in Munich and returned to Cape Town some time ago), were unsuccesful. It was, therefore, unclear how much money the Mobile 3.0 consortium had burnt to date. FTD speculated the complete roll-out of the national network would have costed Mobile 3.0 “a few hundred million Euro”. To date only a fraction of that could have been spent.     

(By the way, FTD refers to Naspers as a US company. The SA media company has clearly not “arrived” on the radar screens of FTD journalists yet!)  

The license was recalled (or revoked) due to the non-performance of Mobile 3.0. Here FTD’s explanation why Mobile 3.0 could not get off the ground: The consortium wanted to use the standard DVB-H and charge mobile telephone clients up to €7.50 per month for access to TV programmes on their phones. For its plans to come together, it needed the cooperation of a range of service providers (among others the local mobile network providers).

These guys didn’t want to cooperate with Mobile 3.0 (they were also in the running for the licence in January; when they didn’t get it, they were peeved off). Instead of cooperating with Mobile 3.0 on the DVB-H standard, they started selling mobile phones with DVB-T receivers in May (which made it possible to receive TV for free). And so, Mobile 3.0′s business plan took a dive.  

Mobile 3.0 was expected to close its doors, FTD reported.

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