CES: Mobile TV Takes Center Stage

Some 35 percent of U.S. television households will have access to mobile DTV by the end of 2009, a coalition of stations announced at the 2009 International CES in Las Vegas this week.

The 63 stations that committed to the trials include affiliates of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, ION, CW and MyNetworkTV. Nine additional PBS stations are in discussions with the Open Mobile Video Coalition to join the launch.

The trials, using the ATSC Mobile DTV Candidate Standard, will run in markets as big as New York and as small as Toledo, Ohio (DMA No. 71).

“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.”

Broadcasters have been looking forward to the technology as a potential revenue source with local programming and transmission resources unmatched by other media sectors.

“For a relatively small capital outlay, broadcasters can upgrade their existing transmission infrastructure to offer multiple channels of entertainment, news and public affairs programming,” said Vince Sadusky, President and CEO of LIN TV.

OMVC conducted a live demonstration on the opening day of CES involving Sinclair Broadcasting stations KVCW-DT and KVMY-DT transmitting to ATSC compliant devices produced by LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics, and using transmission equipment manufactured by Harris Corp. Harris, one of the developers of the standard, announced that it would offer a complete ATSC mobile DTV technology platform available for broadcasters within the next two months. The company said that 95 percent of the technical capabilities for the ATSC M/H standard was demonstrated at CES this week; 100 percent of the required technology will be available within 60 days. Harris is also working with Roundbox and Triveni Digital to integrate electronic program guide services for program stream and data information into its ATSC mobile DTV platform.

LG, the world’s fourth largest cell phone maker, which partnered with Harris on the broadcast mobile DTV standard, demonstrated several ATSC M/H compliant devices at this week’s CES, including an MP3 player with a 3-inch touchscreen display, portable DVD player, several cell phones and a USB “dongle” receiver for laptop PCs. Other ATSC M/H products were demonstrated by Hyundai, Kenwood, Samsung, DTV Interactive and Visteon.

The ATSC Mobile DTV Candidate Standard will be tested in multiple market trials during 2009, revised as needed and proposed as a final standard by mid-year, OMVC said in a statement.