The Good, The Bad and the Absolutely Ugly

I love hype. I especially love to rant at hype... it brings balance to my world.

At NAB, you couldn't throw a stone without hitting the booth of some company pushing mobile TV.

But what exactly is

mobile TV? And more importantly, should you even care?

First, let's talk about cell phone mobile TV. While I don't believe that this type of mobile TV has serious legs, in a country with 295 million people (according to the CIA, whose data I can trust, right?), there will still be enough people who want mobile TV to make it profitable.

Your problem is that you haven't been invited to the party. Now I'm not talking to the broadcast or cable networks, I'm talking to the broadcast stations. While some of you have been invited to the mobile TV party by third-party content packagers for the cell companies, most of you couldn't get Sprint Nextel, Cingular or Verizon to return your calls. If you haven't been invited to the party, you're out of luck. Just keep pushing that streaming local news on your website.

But then there's mobile TV. Think back. Remember the days of the Sony watchman? TV in the palm of your hands. This is handheld mobile TV.

Most people don't think about mobile TV in this way. The reason is simple... and a little sad. ATSC's 8-VSB isn't exactly the most robust signal type for mobile reception (meaning the combination of reflected signals from buildings and moving reception). I do remember seeing a demo of an ATSC handheld TV a few years ago, but that concept died.

But now there's something new: Advanced-VSB (A-VSB).

This is different from Enhanced-VSB (E-VSB) that's supposed to make reception easier for consumers.

A-VSB is fairly new, but is thought to be able to provide more robustness to ATSC. And that's where mobile TV comes in.

Think about all you know, love and hate about ATSC's 8-VSB, and read this: At NAB, there was a demo of A-VSB that simulated reception at 170 mph. Is that mobile enough for you? Does that make more business sense to you? Is there a business model for smaller screen ATSC TVs on one of your secondary channels?

Michael Silbergleid is the editor and associate publisher of Television Broadcast

. He can be reached at