Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc., Fuji Television Network Inc., Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. and other firms will team up to develop new broadcast services for cell phones, the companies said on Wednesday.
The partnership, which will include satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect Communications Inc. and trading house Itochu Corp., will form a $259,400 joint venture in December to develop new mobile multimedia services.
The group will also promote a home-grown digital broadcast standard for mobile TV and will call on regulators to reallocate frequency bands to such services when the bandwidth currently used for analog TV will be freed up by 2011.
In Japan, free digital broadcasts for cell phones, called "One-Seg," began this April, but the current service is limited to simultaneous broadcasts of regular television programs.
Local regulators have said they may allow distribution of content made specifically for mobile phones from 2008.
Mobile phone operators have said they are still in the process of developing revenue-generating business models from the free TV service, and they hope mobile phone-specific programs will allow scope for new types of advertisements.
"Is there really any demand for mobile TV and advertising?" Kieran Calder, a telecom analyst from CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets wrote in a report on Wednesday, citing an earlier in-house survey that showed 74 percent of its 1,074 respondents would watch TV or video for less than 5 minutes on cell phones.
About 50 percent of the respondents also said they do not want to see advertising on their handset, Calder said.
DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile phone operator, has already taken a 2.6 percent stake in Fuji TV, the nation's biggest broadcaster, to boost its development of content for cell phones.