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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Would you watch TV on your cellphone?

The Los Angeles Times today is reporting that broadcasters and makers of portable e-devices are slavering over tomorrow’s yes-it’s-finally-happening switchover to digital TV:

On Thursday, when stations will be required to broadcast through digital rather than analog signals, some companies will use the broadcast spectrum freed by the switch to transmit live television to cellphones and other portable devices. Shows and live video clips are already available on some phones, but this heats up competition as broadcasters and cellphone companies vie to turn the feature into a must-have.

Of course, this was not supposed to be the purpose of the switch to digital TV: it was not intended to give broadcasters an even bigger slice of the public airwaves but meant to open up analog wavelengths for emergency communications and for wireless broadband (that would be nice). Instead, we’re gonna get more of the same old shit. Does anyone really need to watch Jon & Kate + 8 on their cellphone?

The future is uncertain:

About 13 million people watched video on their cellphones in the first three months of this year, which is about 6% of all mobile subscribers, according to Nielsen Co. That’s a 50% increase over the same time last year.

The feature might not take off — Virgin Mobile yanked its cellphone TV offerings in Britain in 2007, saying not enough subscribers had expressed interest. But most carriers today are betting that it will. What’s still to be determined is which service will prevail.

Would you watch TV on your cellphone? If so, what do you think you’d watch that you couldn’t wait to get home to see?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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