Feb 252010
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Who has time to sit on the couch and watch TV anymore?

In the last 10 years, broadcasters have lost 25 percent of their audience. So to win back some viewers, the industry has a plan to grab their attention while they are on the move.

Beginning in April, eight television stations in Washington, D.C., will broadcast a signal for a new class of devices that can show programming, even in a car at high speed. In all, 30 stations in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington have installed the necessary equipment, at a cost of $75,000 to $150,000.

“Younger generations want programming on the go,” said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters. “To access TV on a cellphone, on a laptop or in the car is a game changer for local broadcasters. It will provide a renaissance for over-the-air broadcast TV.”

If enough people watch using the mobile TV technology, known, for lack of a more marketable name, as “ATSC Mobile DTV Standard,” local stations will be able to charge more for commercials and increase their revenue.

Getting a signal on a portable TV was not always a challenge. When analog television was the nation’s standard, a small set could pick up a signal at the ballpark, at the beach or in the car, though viewers often put up with a fuzzy, ghost-filled image.

But digital TV, the standard that went into effect last year, was developed for stationary televisions.

The mobile devices must catch a special signal, a slice of the broadcast frequency, and software processes it to display a clear picture on the go.

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