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Broadcasters Negotiate for Mobile DTV Content Rights

WASHINGTON: Negotiations over the right to transmit broadcast network programming to mobile devices are underway even as the industry prepares to beta launch the service. In a conference call today with the Open Mobile Video Coalition, Fisher Communications chief Colleen Brown noted that broadcast content rights issues are “always negotiated individually. I can’t speak for other companies, but it looks like progress is being made.”

She said “trade-offs were being made, but did not elaborate. Television Broadcast editor Deborah McAdams was then cut off attempting to ask her to do so.

TVB broke news of the rights issue in February when network and station executives at the Hollywood Post Alliance Retreat in Rancho Mirage, Calif., said mobile rights were being treated as a separate entity. (See “Who Has Mobile DTV Rights?”) CBS, which is especially solicitous of preserving its bandwidth for high-def, also wants reliable audience authentication before it serves up content for mobile DTV. (See “CBS Won’t Pony Up for Unmeasured Mobile DTV”)

The OMVC said in February that it formed an alliance with Harris Interactive and Rentrak to measure mobile DTV consumer usage habits in the Washington, D.C. test bed. Around 20 or so channels are supposed to launch there in early May. Coalition spokeswoman Anne Schelle said 200 mobile DTV receivers will be distributed to Sprint subscribers over a two-week period for what the OMVC is calling its mobile DTV “showcase.” Schelle said no hard launch date has been set because of the device distribution timeline. -- Deborah D. McAdams