Joining together in forming Mobile Content Venture (MCV), 12 major broadcasters will upgrade TV stations in 20 designated market areas (DMAs) in order to deliver live video to mobile devices, a first step towards developing a nationwide delivery platform for mobile TV. Expected to be completed by late next year, the 20 stations cover more than 40% of the US population. Two ad-supported, free access channels will initially be accessible. Plans are to expand the number of channels and markets over time, according to a news release.

The 20 markets include 13 of the top 15 DMAs in the US, according to MCV. Providing access to the planned mobile content is a critical element of the scheme that the group hasn’t sorted out yet, however. MCV is working with OEMs and device manufacturers to design and manufacture “a device capable of receiving a specific type of mobile video broadcast, encrypted with conditional access.”

More than 30 million ATSC Mobile DTV devices are expected to be out in the consumer market by 2014, according to research from In-Stat, MCV points out. “Live, local video will ultimately be a key part of mobile services,” Salil Dalvi, co-GM of MCV, was quoted as saying. “Upgrading our stations for mobile is an important first step in making this a reality.”

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The mobile video service is to be available by late 2011 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Tampa, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Orlando, Portland, Cincinnati, Greenville, West Palm Beach, Biringham and Knoxville.

The service providers will make use of existing spectrum for transmission. “The technology being deployed by MCV will permit all broadcasters, in a scalable manner, to deliver popular video content in a spectrally efficient manner as compared to wireless 3G and 4G technology,” according to MCV.

Fox, ION Television, NBC and Pearl Mobile DTV, LLC are members of the MCV joint venture. Pearl member companies include: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.

Mobile TV has seen a series of fits and starts of late. Probably the most high profile mobile TV effort is Qualcomm’s FloTV unit, which  they recently signaled will be shut down, or perhaps sold.

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