Gadget Show Car TV
Isaac Brekken  /  AP
The Audiovox FLO/TV seatback television system is pictured following a news conference during media day at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 in Las Vegas.
updated 1/7/2009 5:48:20 PM ET 2009-01-07T22:48:20

More options for watching TV in the car are on the way.

Audiovox Corp. said Wednesday it will make an in-car receiver for Qualcomm Inc.'s subscription-based mobile TV broadcasts, previously available only on AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless cell phones.

The receiver will be available in eight to 10 months for less than $500, Audiovox senior vice president Tom Malone said at a presentation at the International Consumer Electronics Show. It will work with all existing in-car entertainment screens, including seat-back, dashboard and ceiling-mounted ones, he said.

There are 20 million U.S. cars with such screens, according to Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Audiovox.

"We feel with this partnership, we have an opportunity to breathe new life into rear-seat entertainment," Malone said.

Users will pay a subscription fee to use the system, but details have not been finalized, said Gina Lombardi, president of Qualcomm unit MediaFLO USA.

Currently, Verizon Wireless and AT&T cellular subscribers with compatible phones can pay $15 per month to receive 10 channels through MediaFLO. The broadcast system covers 68 markets and is expanding to cover more than 100 by the end of the year, Lombardi said.

MediaFLO is designed for reception by mobile antennas. Conventional U.S. TV broadcasts, both analog and digital, are designed for stationary antennas, and don't work well for moving ones. However, TV broadcasters are gearing up to transmit channels designed for mobile reception, and may start as early as this year. At least some of those broadcasts will likely be free to receive, just like standard over-the-air TV.

There are car-mount antennas for satellite TV services like that of Dish Network Corp., but installation is expensive and the signal can be blocked by buildings. As another option, Sirius XM Radio Inc., the satellite radio company, beams three kids' channels to receivers that are available as a factory-installed option on some Chrysler LLC cars.

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