Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Coming Soon to the Smallest Screen

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Coming Soon to the Smallest Screen

Article excerpt

While the futurologists burbled at the recent Cambridge Royal Television Society convention, an interesting exhibition ran throughout the proceedings.

There were plenty of amusing gadgets, but the star performers were the High Definition Television (HDTV) sets, which offer clearer pictures and sound. If the England team manages to qualify for the World Cup finals, HDTV will become a necessity of life by next summer.

Eat your heart out all those who recently bought a flat-screen TV that is not HD-enabled - and I'm talking personally here.

For all the joys of temporary Cambridge exhibitions, it is Oxford that will attract attention in the next few weeks following the launch of a full mobile phone TV trial.

Technology has a way of creeping up, barely noticed, even when the ideas involved have been around for ages. Sports and news clips, even streaming TV news channels, have been with us for months. Then, suddenly, 16 full channels of TV are delivered to 3G mobile phones in the Oxford area.

All the main terrestrial channels will be available, as well as BBC News 24, Sky News, Sky Sports News and Discovery.

It is a remarkable achievement, although it is not time to book a big campaign just yet. The service, which involves a signal beamed to a digital receiver in the phone, brings together Arqiva, formerly NTL Broadcast, Nokia and O2 as well as the main UK broadcasters. But it is only a four-month trial involving about 400 users.

It is really a showcase for the next generation of mobile kit, rather than current market reality. The users will not be paying extra for the TV service, just their existing mobile tariff charges.

It is rather reminiscent of BT's great Colchester trial of TV channels transmitted down the phone lines. The technology worked, but more than a decade later Homechoice is still struggling to make a business out of it and only now is BT gearing up for a national broadband TV service.

The outcome of this trial could be different, as it is in the interests of many sectors of the communications industry that mobile media be made to work.

The desperation of the 3G operators to find something - anything - that can be offered on a handset is obvious. There is still the small matter of the pounds 23bn they paid for the licences lurking on balance sheets. …

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