- - Thursday, January 8, 2015


In “TV digital streaming technology speeds past FCC License rule” (Web, Jan. 1) it is not clear whether op-ed writer Andrew Langer’s intention is to argue for a change in law or to malign MPEG LA with incorrect and misleading information. Although the former — whether over-the-air broadcast TV services should be freely accessible through every TV set sold in the United States — may be a subject of fair debate, the latter is deceitful and irresponsible.

There are a number of things Mr. Langer failed to explain. First, MPEG LA has no control over the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard. It was developed by a standards organization and mandated by a government agency, both unaffiliated with MPEG LA. Neither has the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that requires every TV set sold in the United States to include a receiver, granted any licensing privileges, exclusive or otherwise, to MPEG LA. MPEG LA has not been granted exclusive licensing privileges for the ATSC Standard from anyone, for that matter.

Even if no ATSC license were available from MPEG LA, ATSC TV suppliers would still need a license under applicable patents from each patent owner because the digital terrestrial television standard known as ATSC is the result of inventions by numerous enterprises. As a convenience to the market, however, MPEG LA offers a voluntary, nonexclusive, one-stop ATSC license that includes as many essential patents as possible from multiple patent owners for the same royalty. This is an alternative to negotiating direct licenses, which ATSC TV suppliers are still free to do. There is no monopoly.

Nine enterprises that invested the time and money to invent the technology and voluntarily agreed to offer alternative access to it under MPEG LA’s license share in the royalties MPEG LA collects from the more than 160 licensees supplying most ATSC products in the current world market. The result of this efficiency is that instead of passing on the costs of uncertainty and conflict to consumers, ATSC TV suppliers have enjoyed the opportunity to focus their resources on developing products for sale in a level, highly competitive market at a reasonable cost.


President and CEO



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