broadcast television will launch with public interest obligations but not
must-carry nor a tuner mandate under rules
proposed Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which sets
forth a voluntary adoption framework for the next-gen, ATSC 3.0 transmission
standard, is scheduled for a Feb. 23
vote—inside the 90-day NRPM comment-reply
cycle—with “the commission’s ultimate
resolution… subject to change,” according to a footnote on
“I hope that we can issue a
final approval of the standard later
this year,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a contribution
to Medium outlining his priorities.
A February vote
would roughly coincide with the end of the TV spectrum incentive auction, which
starts the 39-month deadline clock for stations
moving to new channel assignments. The NPRM seeks feedback on how to incorporate
ATSC 3.0 into this post-auction channel
The NPRM also seeks comment
component(s) of the ATSC 3.0 standard must be
codified by the FCC to enable voluntary adoption.
related to local ATSC 1.0 and 3.0
and satellite carriage—no must-carry for
3.0, and voluntary carriage of 3.0 under retransmission
to calculate interference potential and
signal-protection threshold (and what other services may be
interest obligations as “currently applicable to
tuner mandate being “unnecessary at this
of 3.0 single frequency networks.
ATSC 3.0 public service announcements, including
how it will “not negatively impact the post-incentive auction
“Lighthouse/Nightlight” approach has been floated for
transitioning the nation's TV broadcasting infrastructure from the current ATSC
1.0 transmission standard to the new IP-based ATSC 3.0 standard. Take a
mid-sized market with five or six big affiliates, for example. These stations
would form a business alliance and create a temporary channel-sharing
of the stations would convert to 3.0, and carry the primary feed of other
stations in 3.0. This concept is called the “Lighthouse”
approach. The 1.0 content of the Lighthouse station would be carried via
channel-sharing by another station in the consortium doing 1.0. PSIP assures
virtual channel numbers will stay the same.
more 3.0 receivers make it into the market and more stations migrate,
channel-sharing of 1.0 signals would increase, until just one station remains
on the air with 1.0.
station would be referred to as the “Nightlight” station.
Eventually, the Nightlight goes out, and everyone is transmitting their own
3.0. Broadcasters have discussed initially going on the air with 3.0 in 2018,
because receivers will become available due to Korea’s launch of 3.0
this year. How long it takes to get from Lighthouse to Nightlight depends in
part on how quickly devices get into the market.
more, see “Getting
Ready for ATSC 3.0,“ by Doug Lung, July 23, 2015; and
3.0 Brings Flexibility of IP to Broadcast,” by Fred
Baumgartner, Jan. 12, 2016.
3.0 comprises suite of about 20 standards divided in the three
layers—physical, management and protocols, and applications and
presentation. This modular approach enables updates versus overhauls and allows
for flexibility of use.
In their April
2016 petition requesting approval for voluntary deployment of ATSC
3.0, broadcasters and consumer electronics makers limited their request to the
physical layer standard ATSC A/321,
the “System Discovery and
Signaling” architecture, or “bootstrap,”
said to provide a “universal entry point into a broadcast
waveform,” for multiple service types such fixed and mobile
television, for example. (See “First
Element of ATSC 3.0 Approved for Standard,” March 28,
South Korean TV manufacturer LG, which has been
active in developing ATSC 3.0 and introduced the first
ATSC 3.0 4KTVs this year at CES, also asked that
A/322, the “Physical Layer
Protocol,” also be included because it defines the
non-bootstrap portion of the physical layer.
Deployment of ATSC 3.0 would be
on a “voluntary, market-driven basis,” and without a tuner
mandate, so broadcasters will have to continue transmitting a legacy signal
since there currently are no TVs in the U.S. market that decode ATSC 3.0. Under
the proposed rules, broadcasters who launch 3.0 must continue
simulcasting in the current DTV standard format,
The NPRM presents a couple of
simulcasting “host” scenarios,
where a station deploying ATSC 3.0 could arrange for a same-market station to
carry either it’s 1.0 simulcast or the 3.0 feed. E.g., if just one
station in a designated market area (DMA) lights up 3.0, it could have the cooperating
station host its 1.0 signal, or if two fire up 3.0, one could carry the
next-gen transmissions and the other, the legacy 1.0 signals.
The host scenarios reflect the previously
approach by which one “lighthouse” station initially
carries all the 3.0 signals in a market, and as more 3.0 receivers are
deployed, ATSC 1.0 transmissions are finally carried by just one
“nightlight” station. (See
The commission proposes that next-gen
broadcasters transmit “at least one free ATSC 3.0 video
stream… at all times throughout the ATSC coverage
area,” and that it be “at least as robust as a comparable
Further, the commission asked whether or not
simulcasts should be separately
licensed as second or temporary channels, or treated as
multicast streams. A licensing scheme would reflect
the same procedures adopted for channel-sharing
arrangements, and it would allow noncommercial educational
stations to host commercial station
multicast approach would “minimize
administrative burdens,” but would “appear to
preclude” NCE stations hosting commercial stations on account of
current FCC rules.
The NPRM also asks about the
interest level of smaller operations, including low-power TV
licensees and rural broadcasters, for deploying 3.0, and whether
LPTVs should be able to serve as
host stations and be given the option of
flash-cutting to 3.0.
Further, the NPRM asks if a
simulcasting sunset date should be set for
cessation of ATSC 1.0 transmissions.
The NPRM notes that multichannel
video provider carriage requirements would depend somewhat whether 3.0 streams
are licensed or defined as multicast streams. Under a licensed
approach, a broadcaster could choose between must-carry or retrans
consent for its 1.0 or its 3.0 transmission.
multicasting approach, the lines are less clear.
Only the host station’s primary 1.0 signal, for example, would be
covered by must-carry, while the hosted signal would not be. The NPRM asks if
the hosted signal should also be considered primary.
With regard to 3.0,
the commission said it’s too early to mandate carriage
since it has not yet been settled how cable and satellite TV
providers technically would do so. It also asks if and how
retransmission consent should be applied to 3.0,
and whether it should be prohibited until the
“ATSC Specialist Group on Conversion and Redistribution of ATSC 3.0
Service produces its initial report” later this year.
Petitioners asked that
OET-69, the interference parameters used for
current ATSC 1.0 digital TV transmissions, be used for 3.0. The commission
agreed. OET-69 also would be the reference for service protection of 3.0
signals, and of co-channel and adjacent-channel signals.
The 3.0 service
area would reflect the 1.0 service area:
“We propose to define a ‘DTV-equivalent’ service
area for a station transmitting in ATSC 3.0 using the methodology and planning
factors defined for ATSC 1.0 in OET Bulletin No. 69,” the NPRM states.
“This means that for a UHF next-gen TV station, the DTV-equivalent
service area would be defined at 41 dBμV/m plus a dipole adjustment
SINGLE FREQUENCY NETWORKS
The rules propose authorization
of single frequency networks for ATSC 3.0 under the commission’s
existing rules for distributed transmission
systems, with one amendment requiring that “all
transmitters under a single license follow the same standard.”
PUBLIC INTEREST OBLIGATIONS
The NPRM proposes to apply all
current public-interest rules to 3.0 transmission, including those governing
foreign ownership, political broadcasting, children’s programming,
equal employment opportunities, public inspection files, main studio
requirements, indecency, sponsorship identification, contest rules, the CALM
Act, the Emergency Alert System, closed captioning and video description.
“We seek comment on
whether we should require that new television receivers manufactured after a
certain date include the capability to receive ATSC 3.0 signals and if so,
when such a mandate should take effecy,”
the NPRM states “Alternatively, we seek comment on whether,
consistent with petitioners’ recommendation, the market
will address this absent regulation”.
“We seek comment on
whether broadcasters should be required to provide on-air
notifications to educate consumers about their transition to
next-gen TV service. We believe that it could be useful for broadcasters to
inform consumers that the stations they view will be changing channels, to encourage
consumers to rescan their receivers for new channel assignments, and to educate
them on steps they should take to resolve any potential reception
The NPRM is in response to the
2016 petition. The commission sought comment through a Public
Notice issued April 26, 2016. Those
comments were generally in
favor, according to Thursday’s NPRM.
“Commenters supporting the petition
include broadcasters, equipment manufacturers, and tower companies,”
it said. “Other industry stakeholders, including AT&T, CTIA,
Dish, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and public
interest groups, offer support for broadcaster innovation” but
without further carriage obligations, cost and disruption to the post-auction
repack and including public interest obligations.
PAI’s SHOUT-OUT to
“Engineers in the
broadcast industry have been feverishly at work developing a new transmission
standard that would let broadcasters merge the capabilities of over-the-air
broadcasting with broadband connectivity,” Pai’s
“This next-gen TV standard, also known
as ‘ATSC 3.0,’ is the first one to leverage the power of
the Internet, and it promises to dramatically transform broadcasting. To name a
few advances, it would enable ultra-HD video. It would enable more localized
information — functionality especially useful
during a public safety emergency. And it would allow consumers to easily watch
over-the-air programming on their mobile devices.”
Feb. 2, 2017
Proposes ATSC 3.0 Deployment”
A plan for voluntary adoption the
“next-generation” television broadcasting transmission
standard known as ATSC 3.0 has been proposed at the FCC, which represents a
seminal event in the development of the standard.
For more TV Technology
coverage, check our ATSC 3.0