A dozen major broadcast groups have formed a joint venture to develop a national service to provide programming to mobile devices live, on-demand and from print and electronic sources. Belo, Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps, Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, ION Television, Media General, Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations, and Raycom Media will work to deploy the service on the broadcast spectrum. The group says it has the combined broadcast spectrum to offer mobile video and print content to nearly 150 million U.S. residents.
"We are excited about building a platform that makes mobile television universally available and economically viable," said Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations. "This venture is the first step in forging cross-industry and company partnerships to deliver content to consumers."
The venture aims to complement the Federal Communication Commission's National Broadband Plan by giving consumers mobile access to video content while reducing congestion on the nation's wireless broadband infrastructure.
"This initiative offers a path for the next generation of video consumption, and will help the FCC in its goal of ensuring efficient and reliable broadband service for U.S. consumers," said John Wallace, president of NBC Local Media. The group also said its mobile-content network will have the capacity to deliver local and national time-sensitive emergency information to citizens across the U.S.
The broadcast spectrum to be utilized for the mobile service will come from the station groups -- Fox, NBC/Telemundo and ION -- and the nine local broadcast groups. The service will employ ATSC-M/H, an open broadcast transmission system developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee specifically for mobile devices.
Local Broadcasting Power
The local broadcasting element is vital. Hearst Television President and CEO David Barrett said local broadcasters are the backbone of the U.S. media industry.
"This sharing of content, broadcast spectrum, marketing resources, and capital is unprecedented and underscores U.S. broadcasters' commitment to bringing vital local news, weather and emergency information to increasingly mobile U.S. consumers," Barrett said. "This is a critically important initiative that holds great promise for our audiences and the television industry. This is truly the next generation of local television service."
David Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, said consumers are the big winners in the deal. But Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, noted there is still nothing formally in place for off-the-air mobile. Even with this joint venture, he said, the broadcasters have agreed to make a push, but there is no information on which carriers they will work with.
"I've tried FLO TV a couple of times. It's great if I want to look at the news or a snippet of a ball game, but quite frankly I've not found it to be totally useful," Strauss said. "Maybe if I had an iPad that would make it a little more user friendly, that might make a difference. But just sitting down to watch movies on my PC is no fun."