Broadcasters using mobile DTV as leverage in fight with FCC over spectrum

Broadcasters are not going gently into the good night of surrendering 120 MHz of the 300 MHz of spectrum designated for broadcast TV to the FCC for wireless services. The FCC wants the spectrum--and has said it will take it, if necessary--for its National Broadband Plan. Broadcasters are digging in their heels because they believe that the airwaves are essential to their future services, including mobile digital TV (DTV). The battle looms large for cable on several fronts, not the least of which is what cable operators will do with must-carry and retransmission if broadcasters' spectrum is cut back.

"Using existing licensed spectrum, the service will allow us to provide content to mobile devices including on-demand video, local and national news from print and electronic sources as well as sports and entertainment programming," argued Carey Hendrickson, senior vice president and CFO of Belo, which owns and operates 20 stations nationwide and is one of nine members of the Pearl Mobile DTV consortium.

The mobile DTV effort also moved forward. A joint venture formed by Fox, NBC and ION Media along with Pearl Mobile DTV, representing nine independent station groups, has given itself a name "The Mobile Content Venture" (and you thought cable had clever nomenclature) and announced an "interim" management team led by co-managers Erik Moreno, senior VP of corporate development for Fox Network Groups and Salil Dalvi, senior VP of mobile platform development for NBC Universal Digital Distribution.

Broadcasters hope to use mobile DTV to expand their services to new audiences such as commuters using public transit with mobile DTV receivers; mobile phones and portable PDAs.

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