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WRAL To Test Mobile DTV System

Raleigh, N.C. — Digital television broadcaster WRAL, based here, and the Capitol Broadcasting (CBC) New Media Group said Tuesday they are sponsoring the state’s first field test of mobile digital television technology in the Raleigh-Durham TV market this week.

The test will demonstrate the new MPH mobile television transmission system, which allows local broadcasters to deliver digital television to mobile devices including cellphones, laptops and personal media players. The developers — LG Electronics (Zenith) and Harris Broadcast Communications — have agreed to jointly support a best-of-breed mobile DTV transmission system along with other contributors including Samsung, working with the ATSC.

The LG/Harris MPH system is currently operational and will give WRAL an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of such a system.

The ATSC-compatible MPH system enable users to watch digital broadcast television programs on the go — even when traveling in fast-moving vehicles.

“This is another exciting demonstration of the power of digital television,” stated James F. Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting CEO. “This is great for WRAL and for the industry as digital provides a complete viewer experience from crystal-clear high-definition television for the home to superb mobile quality for the car and handheld devices. Mobile DTV broadcasting enables WRAL to better serve our viewers, communities and advertisers by providing a strong combination of anywhere access, two-way communication and mobility.”

The Triangle field trials will be conducted July 21-25 in cooperation with LG Electronics, Zenith and Harris Broadcast Communications — developers of the MPH system, which is the leading candidate for the new mobile DTV standard now being finalized by the Advanced Television Systems Committee.

In the test, two channels of specially encoded video will be broadcast over WRAL-DT for reception by prototype mobile handheld receivers.

“Mobile DTV broadcasting is a major part of our future and we are excited to demonstrate the MPH system,” said Jimmy Goodmon, CBC New Media Group VP/GM. “We look forward to deploying a fully standardized system that builds on MPH and includes all of the interactive functionality mobile viewers will expect.”

LG, a principal developer of the technology, said the MPH system takes advantage of digital television’s multicast capabilities. The same signal that brings over-the-air HDTV to viewers’ homes will simultaneously deliver mobile television to handheld or other portable devices. The company forecasts that more than 200 million portable devices are expected to be sold in 2008.

In addition to delivering mobile services, the system also increases the potential audience for local broadcasters. LG pointed to a study by BIA Financial projects showing that mobile TV represents a $2 billion opportunity for broadcasters over the next five years.

WRAL-TV and CBC are part of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, which is a nationwide group of broadcasters driving the deployment of mobile digital broadcast television. Commercial deployments are forecast for 2009.

WRAL has been a pioneer of new television transmission technologies.

“In 1996, Harris worked with WRAL-DT as the first DTV station in the U.S. Two years later, when John Glenn made his historic return to space, Harris worked with WRAL to conduct the first live HDTV broadcast of a space shuttle launch to audiences nationwide. Today, mobile DTV is set to be the industry’s next big thing, and once again, WRAL is leading the charge — by working with Harris to deliver local news, weather and traffic information to North Carolinians on the go,” said Jay Adrick, Harris Broadcast Communications broadcast technology VP.

“‘First in Flight, First in Digital’ should be the motto for North Carolina, thanks to WRAL” said Dr. Jong Kim, LG’s Zenith R&D president. “The landmark mobile TV field trials in the Raleigh-Durham market this week build on WRAL’s long-time pioneering role in DTV broadcasting. LG Electronics applauds CBC for its vision and foresight, preparing now for next year’s commercialization of mobile/handheld DTV broadcasting.”