Class A GM Expresses 3.0 Optimism

Calls standard “saving grace of television” following installation of ATSC 3.0 transmitter October 20, 2017

BATON ROUGE, LA.—Lucas Fry, general manager of WLFT, the Bethany Church-owned Class A low-power station in Baton Rouge, La., is bullish on ATSC 3.0.

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“ATSC 3.0 really seems to be the saving grace of television,” Fry says. The station went live Oct. 17 with a new 3kW ATSC 1.0/3.0 transmitter from Anywave. The MPTV transmitter is one-switch convertible to 3.0 operation, says Fry.

“Cable systems are losing viewership, as well as satellite,” he says. “But over-the-air is definitely growing.”

WLFT has entered into an agreement with another Baton Rouge Class A station to channel share when the time comes to transition to 3.0 service, says Fry.

“We will take their 3.0 signal and put it on our transmitter, and they will take our 1.0 and put it on their digital dot channel,” he says.

Fry is hopeful that ATSC 3.0 will open up several new revenue streams to his station.

At the top of the list is datacasting, he says. “I’ve had conversations with people who are very interested in knowing if they can deliver through us rather than having to stream via the internet,” he says.

Those interested in datacasting include both entertainment distributors wishing to stream content and business entities looking to deliver “mass amounts of data,” he says. Fry declined to identify the entities.

Fry, who also has produced 4K programming for several years, is excited about putting 4K content on air via ATSC 3.0, he says. “A lot of people have purchased 4K TVs and now wonder why,” he says.

Another new source of revenue Fry anticipates is the ability to do pay-per-view telecasts from the 6,000-seat theater on the Bethany Church campus.

“A lot of producers come in and want to do pay-per-view to reach a larger audience,” he says.

“We want to be able to take our sound stage and offer a live concert and a pay-per-view event,” says Fry.

The WLFT general manager also is eager to begin extracting viewership data as part of the station’s ATSC 3.0 deployment.

Baton Rouge recently transitioned from Nielsen logs used by 1,000 people in the market to track viewership to 30 People Meters, he says.

“In this market, Nielsen says 12 percent use an antenna,” he says. “But our research finds 30 percent are using OTA and an OTT service.”

“I hope to become the OTA and OTT provider with 3.0,” he says.

For a comprehensive list of TV Technology’s ATSC 3.0 coverage, see our ATSC3 silo.    

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