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CES: ATSC Mobile DTV 'On a Roll'

Consumer Electronics Show attendees looking for a free tour of Las Vegas on a bus demonstrating ATSC mobile DTV may have been disappointed. The big story at CES this year was ATSC mobile DTV. There’s no need now to demonstrate that it works, and the next step is to get it into the hands of consumers.

At Thursday's Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) press conference, it was clear that broadcasters are working hard to make sure that happens soon. Broadcasters declared their intention to launch mobile DTV across 63 stations in 22 markets, covering 35 percent of U.S. television households. Participants include 14 NBC affiliates, nine ABC affiliates, nine CBS affiliates, five FOX affiliates, nine ION Television affiliates, four CW affiliates and four MyNetworkTV affiliates, along with nine additional PBS stations that are in discussions with the OMVC to join the 2009 launch.

"Following a very smooth ATSC Mobile DTV standard setting process, broadcasters are on track to deliver local and national broadcast television to mobile audiences," said Brandon Burgess, OMVC president and ION Media Networks chairman and CEO. "The collaboration and dedication among TV broadcasters on this project has been gratifying, enabling us to meet our goal of making mobile broadcast DTV a reality in 2009."

NAB President David Rehr was also pleased with the efforts to move mobile television forward.

"Broadcasters should be recognized for seizing an opportunity to provide the entertainment and public service benefits of live, local television coverage to mobile consumers," he said. "Consumers want to utilize mobile devices to follow news and sports, as well as local, regional and national emergency announcements and other content that they have come to expect from their local television stations. The roll-out of mobile DTV will give them the opportunity to experience all of those benefits."

John Eck, OMVC executive committee member and president of NBC TV Network and Media Works, was also looking forward to expansion of the new service.

"Mobile DTV will expand the reach of our content, provide consumers with more flexibility in how they access news, sports and entertainment programming, and open the door to a new world of possibilities for our advertisers," Eck said. "It's a true pleasure to be working on the development of this exciting new broadcast initiative."

While the broadcast mobile DTV buses weren't running, that didn't mean off-air ATSC mobile DTV wasn't being demonstrated at CES. Broadcast mobile DTV signals were being transmitted in Las Vegas with demonstrations conducted in show booths to demonstrate the potential for the ATSC M/H candidate standard and the applications it supports.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.