One of the prevailing areas of contention in the mobile entertainment space is the debate over who owns the customer -- the wireless operator or the content provider. Operators feel that wireless subscribers are their assets, and content providers should pay accordingly to market to that base. Meanwhile, entertainment companies take the point of view that it is their content that makes consumers pay more for wireless services above and beyond simple voice calling plans, and therefore should get a bigger slice of the pie.

This argument is just one of many bumps that lie ahead on the road to convergence between the mobile and entertainment industries, which will take center stage during Billboard's upcoming Mobile Entertainment Live! conference March 26.

During the opening Plenary Session, Tom Wheeler -- the former president of the wireless industry's trade association CTIA -- will moderate a one-on-one debate between Jim Ryan of Cingular and Larry Shapiro of the Walt Disney Internet Group that will explore these issues of content versus distribution.

Billboard spoke briefly with Wheeler in advance of the session:

Q: What is the main takeaway do you hope the audience will get from this debate?
A: That there are difficult issues between business models that have grown up separately and now must find common ground for the benefit of each. Both parties are going to have to adjust their approach to the business, the issue is by how much?

Q: What question or topics are you most excited about asking them?
A: Both these gentlemen are decision makers on the issue described above. This issue has to be resolved and I am most excited about seeing their ability to discover a common ground

Q: What should the audience expect from the two debate opponents?
A: As I said above, both these men are in the right positions in their companies and will be making decisions that affect each other as well as the industry. Neither is the shy and retiring type and I look forward to a lively discussion

For more information about Billboard's Mobile Entertainment Live! event, please visit www.billboardevents.com.

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