ATSC: Harris Exec Warns of Mobile DTV Delays

WASHINGTON: An executive with Harris Broadcast this week warned attendees at an industry meeting that broadcasters’ roll-out of Mobile DTV needs to move forward quickly or could risk becoming irrelevant.

“If we drag this out another two or three years, it will definitely be too late,” said Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology at Harris Broadcast at the annual meeting of the Advanced Television Systems Committee in Washington this week. Adrick has been heavily involved in the development of the standard but said that remaining issues such as business models need to be formulated soon.

“The fact is that we’ve learned a lot in the first demonstrations of this technology and we rushed to get a standard out there and did a great job except there were some things related to be business model that we forgot,” he said. “Once those ingredients have been blended with the basic system I think we’ve got a very compelling story for the public.”

Mobile DTV was one of several items on the list of subjects the standards association tackled during its annual meeting on May 8, which also included the move to more efficient compression methodologies, enhanced audio delivery, and a “next-generation” global television standard. Featured speakers included Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione, MPEG founder and CEO of CEDEO; Mark Richer, ATSC president; and Brian Markwalter, vice president of research and standards for the Consumer Electronics Association.

The panel discussion on mobile DTV examined numerous aspects of the platformF as it exists today, including implementation of reception capability in cellphones, user feedback and marketing information provided by the system, its place in emergency situations, and more. In addition to Adrick, the panel was moderated by Dave Arland, president of Arland Communications, and also featured industry leaders Erik Moreno, senior vice president of corporate development for the Fox Networks Group and co-general manager of Mobile Content Venture; John Lawson, executive director of the Mobile 500 Alliance; James Kutzner, chief engineer at PBS; and Bill Livek, chief executive officer of Rentrak.

Panelists admitted that there were still difficulties to be overcome in the area of public acceptance of the new service. Adrick noted that there are now 125 TV stations providing some 200 Mobile DTV program services in more than 40 U.S. markets. He observed that perhaps the greatest difficulty in garnering consumer acceptance is lack of Mobile DTV viewing devices.

“The big point yet to resolve is to get receivers out there,” said Adrick. “Once we have that, we have accomplished the major portion of our rollout.”

(Image of Jay Adrick courtesy of the ATSC)

James E. O’Neal has more than 50 years of experience in the broadcast arena, serving for nearly 37 years as a television broadcast engineer and, following his retirement from that field in 2005, moving into journalism as technology editor for TV Technology for almost the next decade. He continues to provide content for this publication, as well as sister publication Radio World, and others.  He authored the chapter on HF shortwave radio for the 11th Edition of the NAB Engineering Handbook, and serves as editor-in-chief of the IEEE’s Broadcast Technology publication, and as associate editor of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal. He is a SMPTE Life Fellow, and a Life Member of the IEEE and the SBE.