NEW YORK (AP) — TV stations have been locked out of the screens people carry with them every day — those of cellphones. They just gained a foothold in the wireless world, though it's not yet clear whether there's real consumer demand.
MetroPCS Communications Inc. is the first U.S. cellphone company to announce plans for a phone that can tune in to live, local TV broadcasts. The capability will be part of a Samsung smartphone coming this year.
For years, TV stations have been unsuccessful in getting cellphone companies interested in such phones. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. instead sold access to a broadcast network set up by Qualcomm. That network was shut down last year because of low consumer interest.
Dallas-based MetroPCS, the fifth-largest cellphone company in the U.S. with 9.1 million subscribers, concentrates on big cities and low-income households, also has young customers who consume a lot of digital media, and emphasized that its phone will be different in that it will get local stations, with weather and traffic reports.
Consumers will be able to enjoy the local nightly news on the bus, their favorite daytime talk show on their lunch break or live sporting events while running errands, the company said, but didn't say what the TV-capable phones would cost or if it would charge a monthly fee to access TV broadcasts. The phones will have an extendable antenna for the TV signals.
It's possible to watch live TV on cellphones in several other countries, but it's only become a mainstream phenomenon in South Korea and Japan. Even there, smartphones without TV capabilities, including the iPhone, are crowding out domestic TV-capable phones.
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