BT, Virgin Mobile launch TV for cellphones

The UK will next month have its first broadcast television and digital radio service for cellphones, following announcements by telecoms companies BT and Virgin Mobile.

BT has revealed details of BT Movio, its DAB-based service for mobile handsets that combines live television, DAB digital radio (30 to 50 stations), a seven-day programme guide and red-button interactivity. The service will be delivered—free of charge for subscribers paying more than £25 per month; pay-as-you-go customers will be charged £5 per month after an initial three month free period—via the newly unveiled Virgin Mobile TV, which can be accessed on the ntl-owned company's forthcoming Lobster 700 Mobile TV handset.

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have all signed up to simulcast channels, marking the first time that the UK's three largest terrestrial television broadcasters have agreed to do so.

With the exception of some film, sport and US-produced content, the simulcast schedule for BBC One, ITV1 and Channel 4's digital offshoot E4 will be made available. A small amount of programming may not be included due to rights issues. Channel 4 will initially broadcast Short Cuts, its made-for-mobile TV channel, and a simulcast is expected to follow.

The first broadcast is scheduled for October 1, the same day Virgin Mobile's 'Tellyphone' goes on sale—and it will be closely followed by a multimillion pound promotional campaign starring actress Pamela Anderson.

BT Movio MD Emma Lloyd said: "While developing our wholesale offering we have never lost sight of what the consumer wants. With the announcement of our industry-leading TV and radio line-up and other service components, we are demonstrating that BT Movio delivers the best mobile entertainment package for any UK mobile operator looking to offer TV and radio services.

Alan Gow, MD of Virgin Mobile, added: "We are really excited to be able to offer our customers the same brands and high quality of programming that they expect on their television at home. With BT Movio linking up with the UK's three biggest broadcasters, Virgin Mobile is now able to offer our customers an unparalleled mobile TV service and compelling DAB digital radio service on the move.

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