[opendtv] Mobile broadcasters face technical, business hurdles

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2008 11:12:13 -0500

The business about having to pay extra royalties for content transmitted
on the mobile stream is a bit much. It looks like this applies even if
the content is identical to what is sent on the standard DTT stream:

"When asked at a CES panel discussion, a group of Hollywood studio
executives were not familiar with the local TV stations' plans, but
generally agreed broadcasters lack the rights in their existing
contracts to send their content to mobile devices."

This doesn't sound sensible in the least.


Mobile broadcasters face technical, business hurdles
As field trials gear up, Hollywood looks for royalties

Rick Merritt and Junko Yoshida
(01/08/2008 2:07 AM EST)
URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=205600281

LAS VEGAS - A broad group of local television stations will start
technical field trials of three competing mobile broadcasting
technologies next month. But Hollywood executives said they will need to
negotiate content rights before broadcasters turn on commercial systems
that will serve cellphones and other mobile devices.

Backers of competing technologies cranked up the volume at the Consumer
Electronics Show in their effort to be selected as the mobile
broadcasting standard. Rivals LG Electronics and Samsung showed working
prototype devices at CES based on chips they are now sampling. Thomson
and partner Micronas are scrambling to deliver working chips and systems
for a third proposal before the trials end in March.

The technologies aim to let TV stations use their existing digital
spectrum and towers to deliver video and data services competing with
mobile TV and cellular networks. Their goal is to go live with the
services in February 2009, about the time they must close down TV
broadcasting on their old analog spectrum.

"Mobile broadcasting will be the application that brings viewers back to
the local TV stations," said Howard Lance, chief executive of Harris
Corp. who said his company will ship by September back end RF systems
supporting the LG technology.

As many as ten initial proposals to the Advanced Television Systems
Committee have been condensed down to three major efforts, said Mark
Aitken, director of advanced technology at Sinclair Broadcast Group who
chairs the ATSC committee working on the standard. Based on results of
the field trials, the ATSC hopes to start defining a standard perhaps in
time for the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in mid-April.

The group may pick and choose from among the proposals as it evaluates
the best physical, management and applications layer technologies. "The
first decision will be to define a physical layer," Aiken said.

LG and Harris demoed their technology at CES, called Mobile Pedestrian
Handheld (MPH), and have conducted field trials in Chicago and
Washington DC. The mobile chip sets consumer an average of 200 mW, aimed
at enabling at least four hours of TV viewing, said Woo Paik, LG's chief
technology officer at a CES press conference.

The competing advanced vestigial sideband (A-VSB) system from Samsung
announced more than a year ago has been in field trials longer, said
John Godfrey who heads the Samsung effort, backed by Nokia Siemens
Networks and Rohde & Schwarz. A Samsung engineer said the company's
current A-VSB chip sets for mobile systems consume about 500mW average,
but a second generation due later this year could fall to as low as 100

Both companies showed a variety of cellular handsets, portable media
players, navigation systems and notebooks enabled with mobile TV USB
dongles using their chips.

Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology for Harris estimated
it would cost an average TV station about $125,000 to install a
two-channel MPH service. Samsung's Godfrey said he estimated it could
cost less than $100,000 to install an A-VSB system which could deliver
more than six channels.

All sides use vestigial sideband coding and H.264 compression, part of
the US digital TV standard. Aiken described the Thomson/Micronas
approach as an offshoot of Europe's DVB-Handheld standard.

"They all have their points of differentiation, but until they get
proven in the lab or in the field we won't know which ones are the
best," Aiken said.

While the technical evaluations get started, business negotiations are
not yet on the horizon. When asked at a CES panel discussion, a group of
Hollywood studio executives were not familiar with the local TV
stations' plans, but generally agreed broadcasters lack the rights in
their existing contracts to send their content to mobile devices.

"I would bet in most cases there will need to be separate negotiations,"
said Tom Lesinski, president of Paramount Pictures Digital

Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the
Disney-ABC Television Group, agreed that local TV stations do not have
mobile broadcasting rights. Dan Fawcett, president of digital media for
Fox Entertainment said he was not sure whether local broadcasters have
been cleared for mobile rights.

All three executives said they are experimenting with mobile services in
several forms as one way to grow their fledgling digital businesses.
Paramount has licensed its full-length movies to Nokia and others.
Disney has a mobile channel and on-demand mobile service, and Fox has
created mobile-specific content for services hoisted by Verizon and

The need to pay mobile royalties may come as a surprise for some local
TV stations who assumed users would be attracted to free over-the-air TV
as one of the more compelling aspects of mobile broadcasting.

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