- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — The Twentieth Century Fox studio, a veteran of the big screen and the TV screen, is about to break into an entirely new realm: the really little screen — the kind that comes on a cell phone.

In what appeared to be the first arrangement of its kind, Twentieth Century Fox said Wednesday that it would create a unique series of one-minute dramas based on its hit show “24” exclusively for a new high-speed wireless service being offered by Vodafone PLC, the world’s biggest cell phone company.

Vodafone will begin offering the one-minute episodes in January in the United Kingdom, coinciding with the start of the fourth season of the show on a satellite TV service.

The “mobisodes,” as they’re being called, will be introduced later in 2005 in up to 23 additional countries where Vodafone operates, mainly in Europe, as well as in the United States through the company’s Verizon Wireless joint venture.

The deal is part of a broader agreement between Fox Entertainment Group and London-based Vodafone, under which Fox, the entertainment unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., will develop other programming to be viewed on the phones.

In March, the new Vodafone service, to be called Vodafone live! with 3G, also will offer trailers and clips of movies under a “Movie of the Month” service, the first one being “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”

Cell-phone operators have invested heavily to roll out high-speed wireless services, intent on driving new revenues from Internet browsing, streaming video and audio and other new forms of media.

The announcement came on the same day that Vodafone announced the start of its long-delayed high-speed wireless services across much of Europe. The introduction ended a wait of several years since Vodafone spent billions to acquire licenses to use more of the public airwaves to deliver the new services, which are known as “3G” in the wireless industry.

The one-minute dramas and movie trailers from Fox were one of several services being shown for Vodafone’s service, which also will offer news, sports, music and games.

The cellular version of the “24” series will be based on characters from the television show. Twenty-four of them will be shown.

Teri Everett, a spokeswoman for Fox Entertainment Group, said Fox’s deal with Vodafone represented the first time that a Hollywood studio had agreed to make a TV series expressly for distribution on cell phones.

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