Twelve major broadcast groups to form joint venture to develop national mobile content service
Tue, April 13, 2010 by Tim King
Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., ION Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media today announced plans to form a standalone joint venture to develop a new national mobile content service. Utilizing existing broadcast spectrum, the service will allow member companies to provide content to mobile devices, including live and on-demand video, local and national news from print and electronic sources, as well as sports and entertainment programming.
Broadcast spectrum to be utilized for the new mobile service will come from the three owned-and-operated station groups -- Fox, NBC & Telemundo, and ION -- and the nine local broadcast groups, which are Belo, Cox, E.W. Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Media General, Meredith, Post Newsweek and Raycom. Separately, these nine local broadcast companies formed Pearl Mobile DTV Company LLC as a vehicle for their involvement in the venture.
By aggregating existing broadcast spectrum from its launch partners, the new venture will have the capacity to offer a breadth of mobile video and print content to nearly 150 million U.S. residents. In addition to broadcast spectrum, the partners will commit content, marketing resources and capital to the new venture. The service will employ ATSC-M/H, an open broadcast transmission system developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) specifically for mobile devices.
The venture 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. In addition, the service's mobile content network will have the capacity to deliver local and national time-sensitive emergency information to citizens across the U.S.
Regarding the announcement, Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer of Fox Television Stations, stated: "We are excited about building a platform that makes mobile television universally available and economically viable. This venture is the first step in forging cross-industry and company partnerships to deliver content to consumers."
"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 US consumers," said John Wallace, President, NBC Local Media.
"Local broadcasters are the backbone of the U.S. media industry," said David J. Barrett, President and CEO of Hearst Television Inc. "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. 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."
"This venture takes to the next level the work we embarked upon three years ago with the development of Mobile DTV technology, in anticipation of digital TV capabilities and consumer mobile demand," said Brandon Burgess, CEO of ION Television.
"Mobile digital television places each of our companies at the center of a consumer transformation, putting us on cell phones, netbooks, DVD players and even in-vehicle entertainment systems," said David Lougee, President, Gannett Broadcasting, Gannett Co. Inc. "And it's the consumers who are the big winners. From news and entertainment to emergency information, virtually all U.S. consumers will soon be able to bring their most valuable content with them wherever they go."
Information regarding a dedicated management team that will focus on securing additional content, spectrum and distribution partnerships for the venture will be made available at a later date.