US broadcasters team for 'mobile Hulu'

A dozen major US TV groups are teaming up to provide content and spectrum for a national mobile DTV service called Pearl Mobile DTV Company. Belo, Cox, Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Scripps, Hearst Television, ION Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations, and Raycom Media will get together to form a “standalone joint venture,” according to an announcement at the NAB Show.

The service will reach 150 million US residents, said the companies, and content will include “live and on-demand video, local and national news from print and electronic sources, as well as sports and entertainment programming.”

The announcement comes against the backdrop of the FCC’s plan to encourage broadcasters to give up spectrum for wireless broadband, but broadcasters are looking to pool and leverage their own spectrum to be players in the new media space.

“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,” the companies said. “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 US”

“Local broadcasters are the backbone of the US media industry,” said David J. Barrett, President and CEO of Hearst Television Inc., in announcing the venture’s official launch. “This sharing of content, broadcast spectrum, marketing resources and capital is unprecedented, and underscores US broadcasters’ commitment to bringing vital local news, weather, and emergency information to increasingly mobile US 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.”

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