Programme Making and Special Events in CEPT - What's on?

Entertainment is a vital part of our enjoyment of life. And, although it is easily overlooked, the radio spectrum plays an essential role behind the scenes in making it all happen.

The vast array of entertainment and similar activities available today depend on the radio spectrum to ensure they are seen and heard. The term Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) is used to describe radio (wireless) applications used for:

  • Programme Making: radio applications used in the making of a programme for broadcast, the making of a film, presentation, advertisement or audio or video recordings, and the staging or performance of an entertainment, sporting or other public event.
  • Special Events: radio applications used for an occurrence of limited duration, typically between one day and a few weeks, which take place in specifically defined locations. Examples include large cultural, sport events (football matches, Tour de France etc.), entertainment, religious and other festivals, conferences and trade fairs. In the entertainment industry, theatrical productions may run for considerably longer.

PMSE also describes radio applications used for Services Ancillary to Programme making1 / Services Ancillary to Broadcasting2, Electronic News Gathering (ENG)3 and applications used in meetings, conferences, cultural and education activities, trade fairs, local entertainment, sport, religious and other public or private events for perceived real-time presentation of audiovisual information.

Self-evidently, these applications lend themselves to privately operated systems. Their nature can vary a lot from very simple audio circuits with a modest quality requirement through to multiple high-definition TV camera signals concentrated at a single location; requiring a good enough interference environment to work satisfactorily.

Review of PMSE spectrum

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 adopted Agenda Item 1.5 to consider worldwide/regional harmonisation of spectrum for ENG (i.e. including some PMSE applications) in accordance with Resolution 954 (WRC-07) which led to a review of the bands available in Europe for those systems. The ECC Conference Preparatory Group (CPG), which is the CEPT leading group for the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), decided that it is more suitable to satisfy the Agenda Item by preparing a solution in the form of an ITU-R Recommendation/Report within the normal study cycle of the ITU-R study groups. This approach will leave the opportunity to react quickly to changes necessary in conjunction with ENG frequency harmonisation in a rapidly changing environment.

The introduction of digital TV in the UHF band and the intended use of the upper part of the UHF band (790-862 MHz) for mobile services may reduce the amount of spectrum available for PMSE operation in some CEPT countries. Considering the strong economic, cultural and political interest to ensure continued use of PMSE in the future, CEPT Report 324 investigated approaches for its use in the UHF band and common solutions outside the UHF band. Based on these considerations, it was decided that the centre gap (823-832 MHz) of the channel plan for Mobile systems will still be available for PMSE (see Rec. ERC 70-03 5).

A New Project Team to lead PMSE activities

In order to finalise the review of the needs of PMSE devices, the ECC's Frequency Management Working Group (WG FM) established a new Project Team, FM51, in October 2011 under the Chairmanship of Lindsay Cornell from the BBC. In addition to the review, FM51 will collate, summarise and analyse the regulatory procedures used by administrations in granting access to spectrum for PMSE and incorporate the results into ECC deliverables. FM51 met for the first time in November 2011 and the first main output is a revision of the definition of PMSE.

Based on the information collected, FM51 is expected to update existing ECC deliverables (for example ECC Report 0026) and/or develop any new ones. The review of the spectrum requirements may also need to consider the relevant development in the field of PMSE technologies such as digitalization, reduction of the intermodulation product, and enhancement of audio quality etc.

More to come

A number of activities within CEPT are related to PMSE:

  • The ECC Newsletter from October 2011 provided an article dealing with a review of the frequency range 1452 - 1492 MHz undertaken by FM50 for which PMSE is one of the candidate future applications.
  • Within the framework of WG FM, a correspondence group lead by Benoist Deschamps (France) is responsible for the monitoring and investigation of Cognitive Radio Systems (CGS), in order to develop a relevant regulatory framework for those devices. In particular, it was tasked by WGFM to consider the protection of PMSE on the basis of guidance given in ECC Report 159 dealing with white space devices.
  • The ECC Spectrum Engineering Working Group SE 7 (compatibility and sharing issues of Mobile Service) is currently investigating the adjacent band compatibility between the mobile networks and PMSE (wireless microphones) in the 1800 MHz range.

The studies underway within SE7 and ECC deliverables developed in the past could also provide material to prepare CEPT Reports in response to the European Commission (EC) Mandate under development on PMSE. The EC's Radio Spectrum Committee has approved a new Mandate to CEPT on PMSE in order to identify technical conditions and options to make EU harmonised spectrum available for wireless radio microphones and cordless video-cameras. The aim of the mandate is to create a baseline for economies of scale and the functioning of the internal market. It is expected that WG FM will take the lead on this activity within the ECC.

So PMSE remains very firmly on our agenda and the scope of work currently underway is designed to safeguard its continued performance.

Marc Le Devendec
Deputy Director of the ECO

1Services Ancillary to Programme making (SAP) support the activities carried out in the making of 'programmes', such as film making, advertisements, corporate videos, concerts, theatre and similar activities not initially meant for broadcasting to general public.
2Services Ancillary to Broadcasting (SAB) support the activities of broadcasting industry carried out in the production of their programme material. 
³Electronic News Gathering (ENG) is the collection of video and/or sound material by means of small, often hand-held wireless cameras and/or microphones with radio links to the news room and/or to the portable tape or other recorders.
4On 'Continuation of PMSE operating in the UHF, including the assessment of the advantage of an EU approach'
5On 'Short Range Devices (SRD)'
6ON 'SAP/SAB spectrum use'