Mobile TV Gets Go In The EU – How Will U.S Follow?

November 29, 2007

Today the European union has issued a statement that names DVB-H as the standard for mobile TV among the member countries. In the statement it reads:

Following the Council meeting today, DVB-H will be published by the Commission in the list of official EU standards. As a result, all EU Member States will have to support and encourage the use of DVB-H for the launch of mobile TV services, thus avoiding market fragmentation and allowing economies of scale and accordingly affordable services and devices. In addition, the Commission intends to work closely with the Member States in the coming months on the authorisation and licensing regimes, and to look together with the industry at issues such as service layer interoperability and right management applied to mobile TV“.

This practically makes DVB-H the mandatory standard for many stakeholders in Europe.

Nokia, the worlds leading cellphone maker, has been a driving force behind picking DVB-H as a standard, as AP reports. The Finnish company has made several models of phones with built in TV and larger screens. Tests in Sweden among else, went very well and people loved the idea of watching streaming or broadcast TV in a cellphone. Some people who took part in the trials even liked the idea to bring the phone to bed to watch late night favorite TV shows…

In the U.S, Bloomberg reports that Apple and AT&T today announced that a new version of the IPhone will soon be out with greater download capacity. Making it possible to get videos from YouTube to stream “faster” to the phone. AT&T is continuing to serve television via telephone lines, competing with cable,satellite and over-the-air TV operators.

Broadcasting TV to mobile phones requires a DTV transition to make room for frequencies, the debate about what the white space should be used for has a connection to how and who will bring TV to your mobile phone in the future. One thing that Google has discovered the potential of, and are planning to place a bid for in the upcoming auction, as reported by NY Times. Making it possible to launch a wireless device – with TV included?

But, hey, when will all this be packed together in an Iphone. TV in the Iphone would look great and connect then content to Itunes and Apple would have a really strong product. Something that keeps Jobs up in the night thinking about? Well, if you read consumers minds it wouldn’t be rockets science to figure out and deliver. The EU has taken a clear step towards creating a sound platform for mobile TV. Yesterdays FCC commissioners meeting didn’t have anything like this on the agenda. So what will be the US move when it comes to mobile TV? Can FCC create a great context to unleash the powers of giants – the TV industry, telecom operators and silicon valley will be stakeholders and creators of the future for mobile TV in the U.S. Maybe Apples Iphone will be a possible spearhead into the future.

And bookworms beware… Your spouse might want to keep the light down for the sake of, thats right, TV in bed, a different kind of sneak peek…

Anders Bjers


FCC vs. Cable TV, C-SPAN Airs Today’s Meeting Live

November 27, 2007

At 11 PM (EST) C-SPAN airs the public meeting that the Federal Communications Commission, FCC will hold in D.C. You can check the agenda here. Much interest will be focused on the future of cable TV. Among else AP reports – “Communications regulators will vote Tuesday on whether greater regulation of cable television providers is needed, given how widespread pay-television has become.”

In connection with the transition to digital TV it is interesting how and if cable TV might be limited in ways that makes over the air TV a more attractive choice, especially when it might be easier and cheaper with great picture quality and more channels than before. One piece of the context is included in this meeting and it will be interesting to follow the outcome.

Please tune in.

Anders Bjers


State Of The World – And Digital Media

November 21, 2007

It´s alway’s fascinating to learn something. Today I found a video that shows how new media has developed during the past ten years or less. Also, it tells a lot about the context the DTV transition is taking place in. How different we communicate today compared to only ten years ago and how different a transition would be communicated ten years back.

Have a look and a smile while you watch facts stream by.

Anders Bjers


DTV Awareness Growing But Slowly New Study Says

November 21, 2007

The campaigns about the U.S transition to DTV is speeding up and more and more trailers are pumped out at thousands of local TV-stations. A year ago about 33% of U.S citizens knew something about the upcoming transition. Today 43% has reached a basic level of awareness, according to a new study. There is still a long way to walk before U.S has gained a critical mass of awareness to build preparedness until the actual transition is taking place on the 19th of Feb, 2009.

A new study made by Leichtman Research Group, (LRG) concludes that consumer awareness of the Digital TV transition has increased roughly 10 percent in the past year. Now 43% of adults in the United States have heard of the digital TV transition that will take place on February 17, 2009. But few few actually understand, or care about, how the digital transition will affect their household in reality, according to the study.

There is also a divide among consumers with greater annual income (above $75.000) and those beneath. The first group new more about the transition than the ones with less income.

This is worrying since households with less income probably are more possible to use an antenna to receive TV and in that case will be effected by the transition.

Also, reports from U.K says that landlords have very low awareness about the ongoing transition. “Fewer than one in three landlords is aware of the actions they might need to take to implement the switchover to digital television”, reported by Property People and according to research by the National Landlords Association (NLA). I haven’t seen any information, reports or talk about how U.S landlords might be affected.

So, how can we gain momentum to help less connected and financially strong groups to be more aware of the DTV transition? Well, that is the golden question.

I think it is very important to keep up the campaigns in the television, thats basic and important. But i am still surprised of how little local media is reporting about the transition. I think this is because of two facts: The transition is still too far away according to medias logic. And more interesting, no one is “creating” or working to get out news about the transition with local facts and information. Most news material is national information send from Washington D.C that do not reach out on a local level. No news or information is touching the local audience in their daily lives. No local small talk is in motion. And I think little practical understanding is gained on a local level because of that.

How will landlords know or care if they are affected? Most of them have cable TV installed. But they will have a lot of questions from worried tenants who think they will be affected. And those who are affected has to install new equipment to enable tenants to continue to receive television. And landlords are in need of one important fact: Time!

Anders Bjers


Make DTV Transition A Green Step To New TV Age!

November 19, 2007

There is a match made in heaven between the transition to digital TV and the want from consumers to own flat screen TV sets. I have thought many times how great it is that flat TV sets have made a breakthrough to become a commodity in households all over the world. Or should I say the developed world? Why? Well while working with a transition you discover that viewing TV on a flat screen looks really bad the old analog way – but it is just fantastic with digital TV. So, the flat TV revolution is a great force that helps the DTV transition to be carried out faster and easier than else.

Today you can buy a decent flat screen TV for less than $ 500 at BestBuy or any other retailer. If you buy a flat screen you don’t want to use a analog signal. It looks really bad. You want to use a digital TV signal – that is just great TV.

However, with the sweep across the country due to the upcoming transition, many consumers will buy a new set with a built in DTV tuner. It will probably be a huge mass of TV sets to dispose. How can that be made in a green way? We do not want to have drifts of old TV sets made of tubes being dumped anyhow and anywhere. As Kelley Lehay is reporting at Green Daily – Good televisions never die – they get recycled.

AP is writing that TV makers are urged to be more responsible and make sure that TV-sets are recycled in a proper way. This due to upcoming transition that will make millions of sets obsolete if they aren’t connected to a converter box. The Electronics Take Back Coalition has launched a campaign to put pressure on TV makers and a special website –Take Back My TV – is dedicated to the mission. This far, only SONY USA has signed the the Take Back pledge.

If you want to (of course you want!) find a local place to recycle your old set properly – check this map. Otherwise, the set might end up in a country far away from you like China or Nigeria to be dumped there, something AP has reported about. Over time there is a great risk that it will contaminate the ground with lead or other dangerous substances. Something we don’t want to happen in our own backyard so why in someone else’s?
And we can take steps to urge TV makers to make the transition a green step to a new TV age. Send an E-mail today to TV-makers and urge them to secure a green recycling program for TV-sets in the U.S.

Speak up – and watch out – for old TV sets not dumped in a green way.

Anders Bjers


ION Launch DTV Campaign – Will Cable TV Loose Subscribers?

November 19, 2007

ION Media Networks, a countrywide TV net launches a new DTV educational campaign today. ION has a special part of their website dedicated to the DTV transition. And many of their OTA channels are already broadcast in digital.

The amount of local DTV campaigns are increasing on a week by week basis right now. And each day more and more consumers are waking up to the forthcoming transition “only” 456 days away. Thats the way it should be. But I think right now the stakeholders are doing a great job to build a critical mass of information about the transition. What I wonder is how they will receive and answer questions and rising confusion among consumers. And are the prepared to grasp a debate among consumers? The debate about the Why? Why am I as a consumer forced to buy new equipment to be able to watch my shows?

I am curious about how that debate may unfold. It might bloom during springtime when the fact has started to sink into the public consciousness. And more interesting: who is going to answer what questions? Who will feel responsible to meet consumers around facts that are facing consumers? I think there will be misunderstandings like that it is the government that are forcing consumers to switch. That is true in one way but the real answer is that the TV industry really want to switch – DTV is cheaper and easier to broadcast, with better quality and greater possibilities to develop the media as never before.

That bring forward another question: Will cable TV companies loose viewers and subscribers?

When DTV over-the-air is in full force perceived as a “new” way to watch TV with greater local choices than before and at no monthly cost – will consumers that feel tied by the cable companies switch to this kind of TV?

The DTV campaigns will push many to go online and check out the facts. Many cable viewers will believe that they are affected by the transition. Will they take another step – to leave the monthly subscription model for free TV?

That haven’t been the case during Sweden’s transition to DTV – but who knows about the U.S?

Lets get back to the debate – when it is in motion.

Anders Bjers


DTV PSA Trailers Blazes The D.C Area First

November 15, 2007

As of yesterday commercial broadcasters in the Washington D.C broadcast TV market begun airing synchronized public service announcements, PSAs. It is according to NAB an “unprecedented” effort that so many broadcasters are working together to reach out with messages about the upcoming DTV transition.

Among the participating stations are: WRC (4), WTTG (5), WJLA (7), WUSA (9), WDCA (20), WDCW (50),WFDC (14) and WZDC (25). Among the major broadcast networks represented you will find NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, My Network TV, CW. For the Spanish speaking community broadcasters Univision and Telemundo will put out messages in Spanish only.

According to the media magazine Twice the PSAs are “warning consumers that the transition to digital broadcasting is coming — so be prepared”.

NAB and the broadcasters should really have credit for putting out trailers with information about the transition in sync. Many countries experience that making different stakeholders work together around unified messages is the hardest thing of all during the process to manage a transition. After all, many years have been spent on not working together but competing and positioning against each other. Suddenly, you are forced to work together because of a mutual goal – a successful transition and to “move” the audience as smooth as possible and making it worthwhile to pay for converterboxes in many cases without knowing or understanding what you as a consumer get. Another good example of cooperation is the consensus NAB, CEA and MSTV showed in September about the NTIA converter box coupons program.

However, a few comments:

– Why start now airing PSAs?

It is really the heavy artillery that is brought to the audience. And there are no DTV converter boxes in stores (This is what you get on Best Buy and it might take a while). We are only weeks away from the Christmas shopping frenzy. A converter box is a great gift after all and might be the top gift for the Christmas in 2008. Consumers may be dissapointed and frustrated when they are alerted about the transition but can’t do anything active about it. (Even if consumers need time to understand what to do as Chris Hunter blogs).

I think the PSAs are launched with another audience in mind: lawmakers, lobbyists, commissioners, representatives, senators and every heavy stakeholder that decides about the context of the transition. After all a DTV transition is a hyper local event and so is decision making in D.C in some aspects.

– Why only broadcast PSAs during the evening news?

The PSAs are to be broadcast at 5 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays and at 6 PM on Friday evenings simultainously on all participating stations. I think in upcoming months it will be a great thing to broadcast PSAs during daytime TV when many elderly and other hard to reach groups may want to watch TV. And this PSA schedule will step up as we get closer the actual transition date. Also it is great to start out with trials in the D.C area and export it to the rest of the U.S states.

And once again, surely media stakeholders are a news savvy group that use the TV for the evening news.

If you want maximum viewer attention – why not show the PSAs more often than three times a week?

Twice reports that “The spots will feature top talent from each station, presenting a unifying message that “digital television is coming with its dramatically clearer pictures, sound and additional programming choices.”

Again,this is a good move to use well known faces to put out the messages. Will make people more confident. But at the same time, where is the debate about the transition among consumers and will there be a debate? That is an interesting topic to keep track of during the coming months when the knowledge will start to sink in that many have to buy something they haven’t asked for but won’t be without – after the transition.

Anders Bjers