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Vodafone opposed to new MRB charges scheme

Lisbon, 4 April 2006 – Vodafone Portugal has expressed to the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and the Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications its opposition to the Draft Decree-Law on the charges to be levied by the Media Regulatory Body (MRB).

Vodafone is surprised that, in the interests of progressive convergence between the regulation of communications and regulation of the content published by the media, the MRB is to be financed from the net revenue of Anacom in each financial year. That revenue is supported by operators in the sector, with most of it deriving from the payment of spectrum charges by the mobile operators (in 2004, they accounted for 95% of Anacom’s revenue) – which alone would mean that the mobile operators would be contributing twice to the revenue of the MRB. Anacom levies charges (spectrum and other charges) to finance the responsibilities laid on in law, and it has the objective of matching its revenue to its costs. This attempt to inflate the costs of Anacom with something that is not clearly identified as part of its mission is unacceptable to Vodafone and needs to be reviewed.

In relation to the charges borne by organisations subject to regulation by the MRB, Vodafone takes the view that the Bill creates unacceptable and unjustifiable discrimination between websites accessed by means of mobile technology and those accessed by means of fixed technology. Vodafone also questions the justification for exempting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from payment of the regulatory charge when these organisations are expressly subject to regulation by the MRB in the same way as mobile operators.

Vodafone wishes to point out that Law 53/2005 of 8 November (the law approving the constitution of the MRB) states that the MRB’s powers cover, without distinction, “natural or legal persons who regularly provide the public, via electronic communications networks, with editorially treated content organised as a coherent whole”.

In addition, Vodafone does not understand the Government’s reasons for defining only one sub-category of regulation (high level regulation) within the category of mobile communications, which embraces companies whose main business is not, as is known, the supply of media content. It should be added that in the majority of the other categories of the regulatory charge, sub-categories of medium and low level regulation were created, and that only mobile operators are mentioned in the mobile communications category, when it is common knowledge that there are other organisations that provide content on WAP websites that could fall under the definitions in sub-paragraphs d) and e) of Article 6 of Law 53/2005.

These objections by Vodafone have also been passed to ANACOM and the MRB.