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ATSC Launches Mobile TV Certification Mark

12/18/2009 02:07:07 PM Eastern
Washington - The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) launched Wednesday a certification program for broadcast equipment and consumer receivers that comply with the ATSC M/H standard for mobile TV.

News of the announcements, which was referenced during a TWICE/Broadcasting & Cable "TV On The Go" Webinar Wednesday, will use a certification mark for products that comply with the ATSC Mobile/Handheld (M/H) standard, and was developed in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The ATSC's certification mark usage policy is available at its Web site.

The program also lays out the technical specifications for broadcasters to provide new services to mobile and handheld devices using their DTV transmissions.

The Certification Program uses primarily self-certification by industry members, but it adds provisions for independent laboratory testing, and expert evaluations to help assure compliance.

The Mobile DTV Certification logo is expected to be placed on a wide array of consumer wireless receiving products with embedded ATSC M/H tuners, including mobile phones, small handheld DTVs, laptop computers, "dongles" and in-vehicle entertainment systems. Software and related elements may also apply.

Also during the Webinar, the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), which is promoting the ATSC M/H system, referenced a new national consumer study that found better than half of all U.S. mobile consumers surveyed are "ready for live, local Mobile DTV" services and devices.

The study of 1,000 adults, which was conducted for the OMVC by market research firm Magid Media Labs, showed that nearly nine out of 10 respondents are interested in watching live news and weather programming while on the go.

The OMVC is primarily comprised of broadcasters and manufacturers looking to promote and evolve the new ATSC Mobile/Handheld broadcasting system, which transmits programming receivable by portable devices moving at speeds in excess of 70 mph.

According to the poll, local news and information content will drive live Mobile DTV, with 88 percent of respondents expressing interest in watching this content on mobile devices including laptops, netbooks, cellular handsets, smartphones and other devices, the OMVC said.

The OMVC said the appeal was particularly high among young adult "Millennials" (ages 18 to 29), who will be among the early Mobile DTV adopters.

These Millennial respondents find Mobile DTV appealing generally, and their interest in mobile local news is double their current daily viewership on conventional TV sets.

"The results of this new national survey may surprise some, but not local broadcasters. Online adults say that live broadcast TV programming is crucial, with more than half the respondents saying they want access to live, local broadcasts. And nearly half of those surveyed also say they are interested in buying a new portable device with the capability to receive Mobile DTV from over-the-air local stations," stated Brandon Burgess, ION Media Network CEO and OMVC president.

To get an overview of the national appetite for mobile digital television, the OMVC recently commissioned the national online survey of mobile device owners from Magid Media Labs.

"We believe broadcast Mobile DTV will drive overall mobile video consumption, and those surveyed point to the public benefit of live, local broadcasts - including immediate coverage and notification of weather emergencies and other high-interest breaking news stories that local stations are uniquely able to provide to viewers. It's time for digital TV to break out of the confines of the living room and reach people where they are living, working, and at play - and Mobile DTV will make all of that possible," Burgess said.

"There is no current service that delivers robust over-the-air local broadcast TV news and information to a portable device, but we anticipate dozens of new products to be available along with new Mobile DTV signals that have already begun to roll out around the country.

"Utilizing the newly-adopted Mobile DTV standard, a host of portable devices will soon make it possible to stay connected to local programs, sports, weather alerts, and favorite shows regardless of location," Burgess said.

Some 30 local broadcast stations are now on the air with trial services in various markets around the country. More local broadcasters are gearing up to follow, over the next several months.

Mobile devices make for mobile consumption, as respondents said they would watch DTV outside the home, including at work and while commuting. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents said they would be most likely to watch live Mobile DTV on a laptop, netbook, cell phone, or smartphone.

Among those with children in the household, 31 percent would give the mobile device to their child to watch in the car.

Live programming is critical in overall mobile DTV mix, with 51 percent saying that they want it to be part of the experience, compared to just 18 percent that prefer a strictly on-demand model.

Advertising acceptance is high, with 49 percent saying they would watch commercials on their mobile device.

Interest in paying for premium content is also strong, with more than one-third (36 percent) of respondents expressing interest in recent movies, premium sporting events, and other programming on a subscription or pay-per-view basis.

"Traditional TV delivery methods do not satisfy to Millennials' sensibilities," said Jaime Spencer, director of Magid Media Labs. "Making local news and information content available to Millennials on their terms and where they live their lives greatly increases the appeal of this content."
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