D.C.'s Mobile Digital TV Test Set To Launch May 3

Starting May 3, nine TV stations in Washington, D.C., will be transmitting as many as 20 mobile channels with broadcast and cable programming in a four-month test of Mobile Digital TV technology coordinated by the Open Mobile Video Coalition.

The D.C. showcase is aimed at measuring consumer behavior and expectations about Mobile DTV, as well as to spur adoption of the technology and test various business models.

The OMVC's 30 members represent more than 800 TV stations in the U.S., including over 450 commercial television stations and 360 public TV stations.

The stations in the Washington, D.C., trial are: NBC Universal's WRC; Fox Television Stations' WTTG (Fox) and WDCA, which will broadcast My Network along with the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network; Gannett Broadcasting's WUSA (CBS); Ion Media Networks' WPXW, which will broadcast MSNBC, CNBC and other premium programming yet to be announced; Univision Communications' WFDC, which will broadcast Univision and additional premium programming; Howard University's WHUT, which will offer PBS Mobile and PBS Kids shows; MHz Networks' WNVC, which will broadcast news and information on MHz 1 plus premium programming; Sinclair Broadcast Group's WNUV, which will deliver CW network shows and entertainment/music shows from This TV and TheCoolTV.

OMVC officials said member stations will not charge for premium content during the trial. "We have struck agreements with a variety of programmers to make that possible," OMVC spokesman David Arland said.

As for how startions will make premium Mobile DTV content available commercially, Arland said, the easiest methods for authorization would be through "return path of cell phone network if watching on phone or through an Internet connection if watching on a laptop."

In the D.C. test, the OMVC is working with media-measurement firm Rentrak and market researcher Harris Interactive to study consumer usage habits. The showcase will feature interactive voting and polling, interactive advertising, electronic service guides for program information and transmissions of emergency alerts and closed-captioning information.

Various Mobile DTV-enabled mobile devices, including cell phones, netbooks and portable media players will be part of the test. The D.C. trial is being sponsored by LG Electronics and Samsung, two companies that also supply the Mobile DTV receiving/decoding/tuning chipsets used by a variety of manufacturers who plan to offer Mobile DTV products later this year.

Starting in May, the OMVC will distribute a limited number of Samsung Moment cell phones and Dell 10-inch Inspiron Mini netbooks equipped with the necessary receiving and decoding capability to permit viewing of favorite TV programs. Consumer focus groups with the LG Mobile Digital TV/ Portable DVD Player and the Valups Tivizen Wi-Fi adapter are planned for this summer.

Mobile television programming will be fed to the nine stations and controlled at a new Mobile DTV Network Operations Center, located at the studios of WUSA-TV.

In addition, the OMVC announced the D.C. mobile DTV showcase will feature the Ad Council's "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving" public-service announcements. That campaign is part of the Ad Council's six-year "Project Roadblock" partnership with the Television Bureau of Advertising.

"We expect Mobile DTV to be very popular with younger viewers, given the popularity of mobile devices with ‘millennials,'" Gannett Broadcasting president Dave Lougee said in a statement. "That's Project Roadblock's target audience, and we expect we'll gather some very interesting research on the impact of the Ad Council's messages on this demo through mobile devices."

Nationwide, 45 stations have started Mobile DTV broadcasts, including those in Washington, D.C. Among the latest to come online are two Detroit television stations -- WDIV (the Post Newsweek TV Station Group NBC affiliate) and WXYZ (the Scripps TV Station Group ABC affiliate) -- will provide test and technical access for Detroit automakers to add digital broadcast capability to in-car backseat infotainment systems.