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Cell hell for TV biz

Execs lament mobile carriers' missteps

The TV industry took its turn to fire at the cellular carriers Wednesday, criticizing them at the carriers’ own annual mega powwow for failing to understand how to market and package TV programming to mobile users.

Execs from MTV, “Big  Brother” creators Endemol and “Idol” producers Fremantle followed their film and recording brethren from Tuesday, warning on the second day of the 3GSM World Congress that if carriers don’t improve content marketing and make video easier and cheaper for mobile consumers, the mobile entertainment industry will never become the $50 billion whopper many here are predicting for 2010.

In the morning’s keynote session on mobile entertainment, MTV chief digital officer Jason Hirschhorn quipped that one way to make the carriers better partners would be to “take them on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney or something — get them in line.”

Endemol chief creative officer Peter Bazalgette faulted both sides for not spending enough time and resources on mobile programming. In an interview with Daily Variety afterwards, he said marketing should fall to mobile operators. Producers like Endemol, he noted, have traditionally left the marketing of their programs to broadcasters.

He also suggested Endemol could aggregate shows for mobile operators, ridding them of content acquisition and creation. That would free resources for Endemol to make more mobile-only fare, such as the shorts he showed from Endemol’s “Extreme Reality” series in which people eat locusts and others take bathroom humor to a new level.

Fremantle chief creative officer Gary Carter said operators should give TV makers more information on users’ viewing behavior.

Many TV execs agreed that mobile operators should turn to advertising to help fund and profit from mobile TV. “Advertising will make it a mass market business,” Hirschhorn said. Celebs across the entertainment spectrum are embracing the medium. Pop rapper Craig David got up early to give a rousing 9:15 a.m. performance of his hit “Fill Me In” and told the crowd how he uses the mobile to write and distribute songs.

Actor Wesley Snipes and thesp-rocker Juliette Lewis were on hand to promote BlogStar, a new service in which they and other celebs — including Jack Osborne, Bam Margera of “Jackass” fame and Jessica and Ashlee Simpson — will send news about themselves directly to fans’ cell phones. They could even use it as a way of setting straight erroneous press reports, they said.

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