Broadcasters, including nine pubTV stations and more than 50 network affiliates, will launch mobile DTV in 22 markets later this year, proponents announced at the Consumer Electronics Show last month. Viewers will pick up the signals on devices such as cell phones, laptops and in-vehicle TVs.
Public broadcasters have devoted millions of dollars and plenty of angst to prepare for digital broadcasts that will put more channels and HD pictures on big living-room screens. But another DTV transition that’s even more exciting to some pubTV vets is arriving in viewers’ pockets. Mobile digital TV will use slices of stations’ broadcast spectrum to beam live and prerecorded programming directly to cell phones and other handheld screens on the go. Stations will be able to multicast to this new audience while maintaining HD and standard broadcasts to steadfastly stationary sets. “Moving from analog to digital, viewers can use the same system and the same habits watching TV—it’s still a lean-back kind of situation,” says Jim Kutzner, PBS chief engineer, who serves on several industry committees working to develop the platform.