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CES: Broadcasters Promise Mobile 2009

Broadcasters and technology vendors are teaming up at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show the extensive progress they have made toward bringing digital television broadcasts to mobile phones and other portable devices. In a press event today organized by the Open Mobile Video Coalition and sponsored by LG Electronics, Harris Corporation and Samsung, they will demonstrate the delivery of live broadcast programming to prototype receiver devices that use the preliminary ATSC Mobile DTV standard. They are also expected to outline their plans for commercial rollout later this year.

Broadcasters say they will launch mobile DTV across 63 stations in 22 markets, covering 35 percent of U.S. television households. Of the 63 stations, there will be 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

Sinclair Broadcast Group is providing slices of spectrum from its two Las Vegas stations, KVCW and KVMY, to support the delivery of nine live video streams and one data feed. The demonstration, which will run through the weekend, has also drawn the participation of Journal Broadcast Group, Sunbelt Broadcasting, Meredith Broadcasting, Ion Media Networks, NBC Universal and News Corp. Between the two Sinclair stations, which will continue to broadcast their normal DTV programming, there is about 15 megabits per second of usable bandwidth for mobile DTV, says Sinclair director of advanced technology Mark Aitken.

That is enough to deliver live mobile DTV simulcasts of the programming on ABC affiliate KTNV, NBC affiliate KVBC, Fox affiliate KWU, PBS station KLVX and CW affiliate KVCW, as well as mobile DTV simulcasts of cable networks CNBC and Fox News , digital children’s network Qubo and startup digital music network Cool TV. The CES demonstration will also be delivering a data stream of traffic and road information that will be received by a prototype in-car navigation device, as well as two audio channels, which will likely feature radio programming from ESPN and NPR.

Prototype mobile DTV receivers for the CES demo include mobile phones provided by LG Electronics, which has developed a new demodulator chip compliant with the ATSC Mobile DTV Candidate Standard, and car audio specialist Kenwood, which will show an aftermarket in-vehicle video player that can receive ATSC mobile broadcasts. The mobile DTV streams will also be shown on laptops and PCs using USB-dongle type receivers.

The mobile DTV streams from the Sinclair stations will be supported by a complete mobile DTV headend system created by Harris with partners Roundbox, Triveni Digital and TV Guide. A cool feature of the demo, says OMVC executive director Anne Schelle, is a complete electronic service guide for mobile DTV that includes advertising, mobile commerce and location services.

“There are an infinite number of possibilities for viewers to get engaged,” says Schelle.