Digital service delay prompts TU Media’s ire

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Digital service delay prompts TU Media’s ire

Korea lost out in its competition with Japan to provide the first satellite digital multimedia broadcasting service because of administrative delays, SK Telecom affiliate TU Media, which has been developing the service, said yesterday. The service allows users to view television programs on mobile handheld devices, via satellite. Although TU Media and Mobile Broadcasting Corp. (MBCo) of Japan have been preparing for the service over a similar timeframe and even jointly launched a satellite into space in March, the Japanese service provider now has the lead. MBCo said yesterday that it would begin providing 40 channels on mobile phones starting Oct. 20. Its Korean counterpart, however, is still struggling due to friction with an association of local television networks. All of the related laws have been passed which would permit it to start operations, the company said. But the association of local networks has been opposing the participation of major networks, including KBS, MBC and SBS, insisting that it would reduce the local networks’ profits. TU Media has said the service could only be viable if the major networks are included in the service, and that the local networks would not be harmed. The Korean Broadcasting Commission debated the issue last month, but failed to reach a consensus amid the strong objection of the local network association. The commission will hold another meeting today, but many experts expect no agreement since both sides are holding firmly to their positions. TU Media, which invested approximately 200 billion won ($174 million) on the preparation of the digital multimedia broadcasting service, however, complained that the delay in the service is damaging the company since it has to spend 1.6 billion won every month to maintain the satellite. TU Media said it plans to offer the service at a monthly charge of 12,000 won to 14,000 won. by Chung Sun-gu, Lee Ho-jeong

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