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Free Mobile TV Coming To Cell Phones in 2009

January 8, 2009

Many cell phone users can expect to be able to watch free TV via their mobile device by the end of the year, according to an announcement from an alliance of major US broadcasters.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), an alliance of broadcasters “dedicated to accelerating the development of mobile digital television,” announced its plans to rollout the new mobile digital television services this year. The announcement was made during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.

“Following a very smooth ATSC Mobile DTV standard setting process, broadcasters are on track to deliver local and national broadcast television to mobile audiences,” said Brandon Burgess, OMVC President and ION Media Networks Chairman and CEO.

So far, 63 stations from across the nation have vowed to take part in the initiative. Of the 63 stations, there will be 14 NBC affiliates, nine ABC affiliates, nine CBS affiliates, five FOX affiliates, nine ION Television affiliates, four CW affiliates and four MyNetworkTV affiliates, along with nine additional PBS stations that are in discussions with the OMVC to join the 2009 launch, according to a OMVC statement.

“Consumers want to utilize mobile devices to follow news and sports, as well as local, regional and national emergency announcements and other content that they have come to expect from their local television stations,” said said David Rehr, President of the National Association of Broadcasters. “The roll-out of mobile DTV will give them the opportunity to experience all of those benefits.”

Manufacturers including LG, Samsung, Zenith and Kenwood will display mobile receivers due in stores later this year, USA Today reported.

“The digital TV standard that was adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 1996 was optimized for high-definition pictures on fixed sets,” says LG Electronics USA’s John Taylor. “But when you move around, the signal breaks up.”

Executives say that consumers with the specially equipped new receivers can watch shows on the move.
Portable TVs can receive signals as far as 60 miles from the transmitter and can run up to about four hours before batteries need to be recharged.

“For a relatively small capital outlay, broadcasters can upgrade their existing transmission infrastructure to offer multiple channels of entertainment, news and public affairs programming. This truly marks a new day in mobile broadcasting,” said Vince Sadusky, President and CEO of LIN TV.

The initial 63 stations will reach about 35% of households during the initial launch, according to OMVC.

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