ION, OMVC Organize DTV Showcase in D.C.

ION Media Networks will be demonstrating multiple uses of the digital TV (DTV) spectrum, including live mobile DTV, to White House officials and members of Congress in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday.

The event at the Rayburn House Office Building is being coordinated with the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), the group of some 800 stations who have been pushing for a mobile DTV standard, and will show off what ION calls the "DTV Triple Play"-a multiplex of high-definition, standard-definition and mobile DTV program streams.

"DTV enables us to reach millions of more people with higher picture quality and more programming choices," said Brandon Burgess, ION media networks chairman and CEO, in a statement. "Also, mobile television will allow viewers to access broadcaster's content anytime, anywhere. The entertainment, educational, and business benefits of the nation's switch to digital television are vast."

The OMVC is currently running a technical trial of mobile DTV in the D.C. market, which will be followed by consumer usage trials early next year.

Participating stations include Ion's WPXW; Gannett's WUSA, a CBS affiliate; Fox's WDCA; NBC's WRC; WHUT, a PBS station owned and operated by Howard University; WNVT, the home of multicasting service MHz Networks; and WNUV, the CW affiliate in Baltimore run by Sinclair. The initial plan is for each station to broadcast a minimum of two mobile channels apiece, along with some electronic service-guide and alert data.

The ION/OMVC event will show mobile DTV streams being received on a variety of devices, including cell phones, netbooks and in-car displays.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the U.S. digital TV standards body, is expected to ratify a formal DTV standard by September, paving the way for consumer devices to hit retail shelves next year. Some 70 stations have already committed to begin mobile DTV broadcasts in 2009.

Ion Media top D.C. executive John Lawson gave a mini-preview of the mobile technology at a Senate hearing on kids TV Wednesday. During his testimony he pulled out an LG mobile device with Ion’s Qubo kids network airing on the small screen and gave a plug for next week’s demo.

The hearing was about all the new screens--computer, cell phones--that video is being delivered to in the digital age and what effect that should have on government regulation.