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Broadcasters Announce Mobile DTV Rollout Plans

Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a joint venture of 12 major broadcasters, says it will deploy at least two ad-supported free-to-consumer Mobile DTV channels in 20 DMAs within the next 12 months, delivering mobile video to markets representing more than 40 percent of the U.S. population. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added over time.

In 2011, MCV expects to offer the mobile video service in the following markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Tampa, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Orlando, Portland, Cincinnati, Greenville, West Palm Beach, Birmingham, and Knoxville.

Mobile Content Venture (MCV) is a joint venture that includes Fox, ION Television, NBC and Pearl Mobile DTV, LLC. The Pearl member companies include: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.

Currently only a handful of devices on the market can receive Mobile DTV, an auxiliary service broadcasters send over the digital broadcast airwaves via the ATSC M/H standard. Broadcasters in several cities including Washington D.C.—which held consumer trials last summer—are already broadcasting Mobile DTV.

MCV said it is working with a variety of OEMs and device manufacturers to ensure availability of Mobile DTV enabled devices by the second half of 2011. Market research firm In-Stat says that the U.S. mobile DTV sector will experience solid growth over the next few years, with more than 30 million ATSC Mobile DTV devices expected to be deployed by 2014.

"Live, local video will ultimately be a key part of mobile services," said Salil Dalvi, co-GM of MCV. "Upgrading our stations for mobile is an important first step in making this a reality."

"Our commitment to launch in 20 markets, including 13 of the top 15 DMAs, is a significant and necessary step in building a viable commercial mobile TV business that delivers a comprehensive product to viewers," added Erik Moreno, co-GM of MCV. "We welcome the opportunity to work with Fox and NBC affiliates, as well as additional broadcasters, in rolling out many more markets."

The Open Mobile Video Coalition, which represents nearly 900 broadcast TV stations applauded the announcement as a “vital next step for the broad deployment of Mobile Digital TV for viewers.”

MCV's plans clearly show their intent to initiate Mobile DTV service in markets throughout the country,” said Anne Schelle, president of OMVC. “After years of refining the Mobile DTV standard, perfecting the technological aspects of the service and learning what consumers want to see on Mobile DTV, the industry is ready to provide the a true Mobile DTV service. Consumers have said time and again that they want to watch a variety of programming on-the-go, including live local news, sports, with access to emergency announcements and their favorite entertainment programs. Today's announcement by MCV is a significant step in that direction."

Broadcasters opposed to the FCC’s National Broadband Initiative, which proposes auctioning off portions of the broadcast spectrum to wireless providers, cite Mobile DTV as a promising new technology that would be threatened if the commission has its way. MCV said its mobile video service complements the National Broadband Initiative by giving consumers access to mobile video content using existing broadcast spectrum from its launch partners to offer a breadth of mobile video, including sports and entertainment content. The group added that the technology being deployed by MCV will permit all broadcasters, in a scalable manner, to deliver popular video content in a spectrally efficient manner as compared to wireless 3G and 4G technology.