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Digital TV Shows on Cellphones in Japan

USA Today reports that Japan's 90 million cellphone users already play video games, download songs, exchange messages, read news, trade stocks, store digital photos and surf the Web on their tiny screens. Now, they're doing something less tech-savvy and more mundane: watching TV.

Free digital TV broadcasts for portable devices equipped with special receivers began in Japan's major urban areas, although people, for now, can watch only the same programs shown on regular television sets in living rooms.

Japan's mobile TV technology isn't all that innovative or even the first to market. But it does show promise for linkups with entertainment downloads and other new services in a country already used to relying on the omnipresent mobile phone for everything from searching the Web for restaurants to paying for that meal. The new gadgets are essentially cellphones with antennas. They use an adaptation of digital broadcasts � the same ones that can be picked up by specially equipped digital television sets � rather than an Internet connection to relay video.

Hitoshi Mitomo, professor at Waseda University's graduate school of global information and telecommunication studies, believes regulations here need to be changed to foster new businesses that will make TV on-the-go attractive and trendy. "There are many hurdles from both the business side and the consumer side," Mitomo said. "What it needs is appealing content to watch on the handsets that offers ingenious lifestyle uses."

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