Twelve broadcast groups and networks announced Tuesday that they are forming a joint venture to distribute mobile content nationally, via currently unused broadcast spectrum. Using video and text from the group partners, “the service will allow member companies to provide content to mobile devices, including live and on-demand video, local and national news from print and electronic sources, as well as sports and entertainment programming.”
The consortium includes broadcast networks like NBC, Fox and ION, along with large broadcast ownership groups, including Gannett, Media General, Belo, Cox and Post Newsweek. The goal will be to deliver video content especially via mobile devices.
The timing of the announcement is particularly interesting. The press release says the venture is “designed to complement” the FCC’s National Broadband Plan [PDF], which proposes that broadcasters return unused spectrum to promote wider broadband adoption around the country. This week, words have been flying over that plan. On Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, the NAB president and CEO strongly criticized it. In his own speech to the NAB on Tuesday, the FCC chairman urged broadcasters to consider selling off part of their spectrum. Whether we’re talking about the same portion of the spectrum is unclear (to me, at least) at this stage.