Twelve major broadcasters have announced their intention to form a standalone joint venture to develop a new national mobile content service. Fox, NBC & Telemundo and ION Television will provide TV spectrum which will be repurposed for delivery of the new service which they will then operate in partnership with nine local broadcast groups: Belo, Cox, E.W. Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Media General, Meredith, Post Newsweek and Raycom, which have together formed ‘Pearl Mobile DTV Company LLC’ to participate in the venture. The group claim to have a potential market of 150 million people in the US and will allow member companies to provide their content to mobile devices, including news from print and electronic sources, sports and entertainment programming and live and on-demand video. The service will employ ATSC-M/H, an open broadcast transmission system developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) for mobile TV. The group are recruiting a dedicated management team for the as-yet unnamed new service in order to sign more content, spectrum and distribution deals.
The broadcasters claim the new service is designed to complement the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Initiative by giving consumers mobile access to video content while reducing congestion of the nation’s wireless broadband infrastructure. However, critics suggest the move could be prompted by less altruistic motives, and is a reaction to the proposal to reclaim some of the broadcasters’ spectrum for more mobile broadband networks. The FCC’s proposals are aimed at taking 40% of the broadcasters’ spectrum back to be reallocated for wireless services, compensating them with a share of mobile licence auction proceeds.