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Sinclair Broadcast forms mobile TV venture with South Korean wireless company

Sinclair Broadcast Group plans to form a joint venture company with a South Korean wireless communications firm to develop mobile TV, personalized advertising and other services through a mobile-friendly “next-generation” broadcast transmission standard.

Hunt Valley-based Sinclair and SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile operator, signed a joint venture agreement to launch the jointly funded and managed company within the first quarter. The companies announced the plans late Monday in Las Vegas, where the CES consumer technology trade show kicked off today.

The jointly run company will develop broadcasting services such as personalized advertisements, in-vehicle TV broadcasting and two-way communications between broadcasters and users’ smartphones, vehicles and TVs by recognizing personal IP addresses. The company expects to launch services in the U.S. market this year.

The partnership will allow Sinclair to “explore and commercialize solutions that optimize the economic value of our spectrum, our broadcast infrastructure, our programming ventures and our emerging OTT platforms,” or media that is streamed to viewers over the Internet, said Chris Ripley, Sinclair’s president and CEO.

The new transmission standard, ATSC 3.0, or Advanced Television Systems Committee, enables data communications in broadcasting bands. It will support advancements such as mobile viewing, 3D television, 4K Ultra High Definition, improved picture quality and immersive audio. All U.S. TV broadcast stations are expected to switch to ATSC 3.0 within the next decade.

Sinclair and SK Telecom signed a memorandum of understanding last year that said they would work together to develop new technology. SK is Korea’s largest mobile operator by revenue and subscribers, serving about half that nation’s market with 30.2 million mobile subscribers.

“SK Telecom will work closely with Sinclair Broadcast Group to gain leadership in the next-generation broadcasting solutions market in the U.S.,” said Park Jung-ho, president and CEO of SK Telecom, in the companies’ announcement.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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