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April 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Some of broadcasting’s biggest players, including the Fox and NBC networks as well as ION Television (partially owned by NBC), Cox Media Group, Gannett Broadcasting, Belo, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek, Raycom, and Hearst Television, have agreed to form a consortium to develop programming for mobile phones. The venture would use spectrum that the broadcasters abandoned when they switched to digital last year — spectrum that the FCC wants them to relinquish so that it can be auctioned off to telecommunications firms. In a statement, Hearst Television chief David Barrett called the joint venture of rival broadcasters “unprecedented” and said that it “underscores U.S. broadcasters’ commitment to bringing vital local news, weather, and emergency information to increasingly mobile U.S. consumers.” But telecommunications firms have warned that they face a bandwidth crisis if the current trend of downloading and streaming video to such devices as Apple’s iPhone and iPad continues. While some observers have suggested that the consortium amounts to an effort by the broadcasters to undermine the FCC’s efforts to reclaim the unused spectrum for wireless, Britain’s Financial Times indicated today (Wednesday) that wireless providers will be invited to join the group. “It’s becoming increasingly apparent that this is an efficient spectrum play for wireless,” Dave Lougee, president of Gannett Broadcasting, told the FT.