News Group unveils new mobile initiatives

Sun Me TV will offer user-generated video downloads and mobile news.

News Group Newspapers is to pioneer a series of mobile initiatives in the New Year, including user-generated video downloads, mobile news services and a printed inter-active bar code system.

Sun Me TV enables consumers to shoot short videos on their handset and upload them to a dedicated section of The Sun website.

It is similar to 3 Mobile's See Me TV, where there is a charge for each clip uploaded and the user receives 1p each time the clip is downloaded, but it is unclear whether The Sun will adopt the same payment model.

Meanwhile, the News of the World is currently trialling Qode technology, which links activated special bar codes in print to the mobile internet. The mobile user downloads Qode software and then takes a picture with his/her camera phone. In doing this, users bypass web addresses or search engines and go straight to the mobile internet destination.

The News of the World will mainly use Qode for football clips, since News Group has won the rights to broadcast English Premier League Football to mobiles in a joint bid with BSkyB. The technology could also be used by advertisers to offer readers discount vouchers or further product information.

Mike Anderson, managing director of NGN, said: "Qode is brilliant, but the software is not pre-embedded in mobiles, it needs to be downloaded. In the future, it should be pre-embedded.

"Effectively, it is the same thing as the interactive red button on the television, but in a newspaper."

Finally, News Group is looking at ways of delivering bespoke mobile editions of both newspaper brands direct to mobile phones.

Anderson said: "We are looking at how you might publish direct to mobile. You will be able to get editions of a paper for different times, on different platforms. This is all part of News Group changing from a newspaper company to a media company."

News Group is keen to develop mobile as a digital distribution method since The Sun and News of the World readers do not have high take-up of broadband, but are heavy users of mobile phones.

News Group has recently beefed up its digital operations, hiring Mark Chippendale, former vice-president of European sales for Yahoo!, as media director, Andrew Bagguley as head of mobile strategy and Jim Mullen as digital strategy director.

- An interview with NGN's Mike Anderson is available to Media Week readers to view at mediaweek.tv - http://www.mediaweek.tv/details.php?chatid=5&sid=aa9fe05b38027128d9f0849056c73958.

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