Mobile TV initiative coming together to the benefit of local sports coverage

The news that LG Electronics and Samsung have joined their two incompatible standards to develop a single format that will allow for digital television broadcasting to mobile devices has been welcomed by everyone involved. For sports producers, the development could lead to an increased audience for live local sporting events and the distribution of national sports scores to portable and other types of mobile devices.

The result of the news is that the jointly developed technology, basically a common receiver chip inside a cell phone or other portable device, will be compatible with whichever Mobile/Handheld (M/H) transmission standard the broadcast industry adopts.

The ultimate decision will be based on the findings of recent tests conducted by the Association of Maximum Service Television (MSTV). Its field test results have been submitted to the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), which is expected to adopt a standard for the North American market in early 2009.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), a group of U.S. broadcasters promoting the development and early deployment of mobile DTV — conducted field trials in San Francisco and more recently in Las Vegas (in early April). The group said the trials demonstrated full-motion mobile DTV reception at pedestrian and highway speeds. The results also showed that mobile reception can be achieved as much as 40mi from the transmitter, and that mobile DTV does not interfere with the regular FCC-compliant primary digital television broadcasts.

At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, LG, in cooperation with Harris, unveiled a new Mobile Pedestrian Handheld (MPH) reception device while Samsung debuted A-VSB technology. The devices shown were incompatible. Both MPH and A-VSB are in-band solutions, which local stations can use to broadcast extra programming for mobile devices. The systems are designed to broadcast to mobile phones, car seat back TVs and personal navigation devices.

Broadcasters were pleased with the alliance. “Agreement on a standard takes our industry to the next level in the development and rollout of products and services, and the OMVC remains fully committed to the ATSC’s current planned schedule of adopting a final standard by July 2009,” said Anne Schelle, OMVC executive director. “Next, we’ll be focused on consumer trials with the goal of realizing mobile DTV for consumers as soon as possible.”