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Working mobile broadcast TV standard doable by end of year, says Davis

There is no reason the television industry cannot have a working mobile television standard by the end of 2008, Sterling Davis, vice president of engineering at Cox Broadcasting and member of the Open Mobile Broadcasting Coalition, said on the opening day of NAB2008.

Davis offered a report to a gathering of more than 400 broadcasters April 14 on progress the coalition has made testing competitive systems offered by Harris, Rhode & Schwarz and Thomson as part of its Independent Demonstration of Viability (IDOV) project aimed at birthing an ATSC-approved mobile TV standard by the end of the year.

According to Davis, field trials of the systems began in March and will continue in April in San Francisco and Las Vegas. During NAB2008, the Sinclair Broadcast and Telemundo stations in Las Vegas, are transmitting mobile TV as part of their digital stream.

During the breakfast gathering, Davis reported OMVG, an association of at least 18 major broadcast groups and public broadcasters representing 800 stations, is working to submit a report to ATSC May 15 on its tests. In addition to the field trials, the coalition plans to conduct laboratory testing as well as consumer trials.

So far, OMVC’s IDOV tests have demonstrated:

· Both high VHF and UHF mobile reception works at pedestrian and highway speeds;

· Mobile reception can be achieved as far as 40mi from the transmitter;

· None of the systems being tested interfere with normal digital broadcasting.

While engineering issues and system viability are particularly important at this early stage of market development for a mobile TV broadcast system, business opportunities appeared to whet the appetites of broadcasters on stage as well as in the audience. Referencing a marketplace study released earlier in the year, Jim Conschafter, senior VP of Media General and OMVG board member, told the audience mobile TV could bring in an additional $2 billion of revenue - $1.1 billion for local broadcasters and $900 million for networks- by the end of 2009.

In addition to advertising, mobile TV offers broadcasters an opportunity to generate additional revenue from other avenues, including pay services, reselling content and leasing access to third parties wishing to reach consumers.

Following the breakfast, I spoke with Alan Frank, president and CEO of the Post-Newsweek stations and member of the OMVC board, about the opportunities for mobile TV and the challenges ahead.

Listen to the audio clips from Alan Frank.

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