KEVIN MARTIN said he is willing to conduct testing of the digital transition in a few markets before taking the switch national next February. The FCC chairman had formerly claimed there was not enough time for testing. However, FCC member Michael Copps has continued to push hard for the tests and appears to have persuaded Martin. In related news, the Commission voted in favor of a mandate that forces broadcasters to help spread the word about the upcoming digital transition. Stations will choose to either follow a NAB-created regular schedule of PSA’s and information programming or a self-prescribed schedule that increases in frequency as February 17, 2009, nears.
AOL plans to launch 12 new sites in the next six months and over 20 by the end of the year, according to Executive VP of programming Bill Wilson. The massive rollout is most likely spurred by the explosive success of AOL’s gossip site TMZ. The company has not announced the intended focus of the new sites.
NBC U announced that it will divide its digital, research and marketing roles among 3 different executives after Beth Comstock returns to GE. Comstock helped develop Hulu.com and oversaw the iVillage purchase for $600 million.
GOOGLE has taken Google Gears mobile, which will let mobile phones continue to access a mobile application even without a network connection. The software should protect against a temporarily dropped network connection and also allow consumers to use applications while on planes and other locations where a connection is usually unavailable. In other mobile news, Microsoft’s Silverlight platform has been embraced by Nokia. The software will be used in Nokia’s S60 and S40 mobile devices as well as its Internet tablets. Microsoft says that more mobile announcements are on the way.
APPLE appears to have missed its goal of offering 1,000 iTunes movie rentals before the end of February. A check this morning of the library only finds around 400 movies available for rent.
STEVEN SPIELBERG is reportedly preparing a new social network for people who have had paranormal and extraterrestrial experiences. TechCrunch reports that the project was initially connected with Yahoo, but has separated while it continues development. The project would be an interesting experiment to see if Spielberg can translate his box office success into a new online franchise.