News-Press Gazette Readies 3.0 Launch in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, CA—News-Press Gazette will commence ATSC 3.0 transmission in Santa Barbara Oct. 11, making its KSBB-TV (CD) Class A station one of the first on the West Coast to begin delivering Next-Gen TV over the air.

“We are excited about all of the potential of ATSC 3, but right now we are focused on a higher picture quality and immersive audio,” says Eric Bradley, EVP, Business Development, for the family-owned media company.

While not a member of the Pearl TV station consortium, New-Press Gazette collaborated with the consortium on bringing 3.0 to Santa Barbara, says Bradley. Pearl TV along with NAB played important roles in making the launch possible, he adds.

Besides strong technical leadership from NPG Director of Technical Operations Jim DeChant and the station engineers in Santa Barbara, NPG brings the unique point of view of a relatively small station group to the launch, a valuable element for the industry at large, explains Bradley.

“Anytime you have large markets doing this [launching 3.0], you only have one perspective. You don’t get the perspective of the smaller markets that maybe have different levels of investment that they can handle,” says Bradley. “Sometimes you have to be a little more creative with that, a little more bootstrap. That can cause a little more creativity.”

With the help of Pearl and NAB, the station group has recruited a roster of technology vendors, including GatesAir and ATEME, to assist with the launch. At presstime, NPG’s plans to launch sometime on Oct. 11 remained in place, says DeChant.

When KSBB-TV goes on-air with 3.0 operations, it will transmit its 24/7 local news channel as a Next-Gen TV signal and lighthouse its 1.0 service on a digital subchannel of sister station KEYT, says DeChant.

Rolling out 3.0 service on the KSBB-TV is a genuine Next-Gen TV launch, not a trial, although NPG is committed to making the station available to hardware and software developers of 3.0 technology to test and evaluate product releases, he adds.

ATSC 3.0’s support for advanced emergency messaging in the form of AWARN also helped NPG make the decision to launch Next-Gen TV, says Bradley.

“In December with those fires, the largest wildfires at the time in the history of California, and then the mudslides that followed, this community faced real dangers,” he says. ““We put every effort into informing that community. So if we can use this technology to be more efficient at that, that’s a wonderful thing.”

While viewers aren’t yet in a position to receive the 3.0 signal, consumer electronics vendors, such as Sony, Samsung and LG, are making prototype 3.0 televisions available to NPG to evaluate the Next-Gen TV performance of KSBB-TV.

Although the 3.0 launch in Santa Barbara is a first for NPG, it won’t be the last, says Bradley. While there is no timetable for a wider group launch at the moment, the KSBB-TV launch will provide the station group with valuable lessons that one day can help its other stations launch 3.0 operations, he says.

“This is an exciting time for the industry, our family and the community because they are going to be part of the future of broadcast,” he adds.

(Editor’s note: Pacific Northwest broadcaster WatchTV was granted an FCC experimental license in February 2017 to transmit Next-Gen TV from its Class A stations in Portland, Ore.)

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

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.