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Dispatch - South Korea

SEOUL – South Korea is the latest territory set to dial up TV by phone. Manufacturers are rushing to roll out new cell phones that can receive satellite signals in time for September’s launch of digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) that will allows customers to watch TV on their phone screens.

South Korea’s SK Telecom launched a satellite in partnership with Japan’s Mobile Broadcasting Corp. in March and built 9,000 transmission towers to provide nationwide access. The satellite will beam TV programs to wireless devices, offering news and entertainment through as many as 40 channels. Specific programming remains a big unknown, however. Major broadcasting stations are slow to collaborate despite government support for the cutting-edge project.

“We’re ready in technical terms to kick off DMB, but securing programming content remains to be worked out,” says Huh Jae-young of TU Media, a company established by SK Telecom to handle the DMB service.

TU Media anticipates that monthly subscription fees will be around $28 with DMB handsets between $500 to $600.

SK Telecom is counting on sales of $240 million by 2006. It predicts the number of domestic subscribers will balloon from 2.2 million in 2006 to 8 million by 2010.

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