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Pai Sees ATSC 3.0 Benefits Firsthand in Phoenix

PHOENIX—FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described the ongoing trial of ATSC 3.0 as “really exciting” Aug. 19 after a visit to the Univision station in town for a demo of Next-Gen TV.

In a video tweeted by Pai, the chairman said Next-Gen TV marries “the best of broadcasting –that one-to-many architecture we’ve known and enjoyed for many years with the Internet.”

General managers from the Phoenix stations participating in the Pearl TV-led model market project gathered with Pai at the Univision studios to watch ATSC 3.0 in action, according to Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV.

Pai was shown 1080p HDR delivered over the air to three prototype U.S. ATSC 3.0 sets –one each from LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony. The televisions were equipped with a 4K upconverter, she added.

[Read: WRAL-TV Showcases Next Gen TV’s Potential]

In his Tweet, Pai laid out some of the benefits ATSC 3.0 offers viewers, including immersive audio, highly localized information, better accessibility for those with disabilities and the ability to support a variety of viewing screens ranging from big-screen TVs in the living room to mobile devices.

FCC Chairman Pai joins Phoenix test market group to examine progress made on ATSC 3 broadcasting.

FCC Chairman Pai joins Phoenix test market group to examine progress made on ATSC 3 broadcasting.

“We were able to demonstrate [for Pai] many of the features and functions that we’re excited about bringing to consumers,” said Schelle.

Pai’s visit to Phoenix came while a major 3.0 development conference is going on in the city, which meant that more than 20 companies developing 3.0 technology were in town and attended the demonstration for the chairman. The vendors gathered for the 3.0 developer conference will write the guidelines for the interactive layer for the industry to use, said Schelle.

Besides showing the chairman over-the-air reception and upconversion of a 3.0 signal to 4K HDR, the Next-Gen audio capabilities of Dolby AC-4 were highlighted. An application “skin” that will be tested by the stations participating in the 3.0 model market was also on display as were the advanced advertising and audience data capabilities of the platform that support program recommendations and more content for viewers, said Schelle. Emergency alerting via AWARN and mobile reception were also part of the demo.

Beyond 3.0 features, the demo gave Pai a good sense of the level of cooperation taking place among broadcasters, vendors and other developers to make the ultimate Next-Gen TV rollout a success, she added.

“When you go in the equipment room [at the station], we have multiple vendors that are on the racks,” she said.

Schelle characterized Pai’s reaction to the 3.0 demo as upbeat. “I think he was excited and pleased to see the level of collaboration and number of companies that were present, the amount of investment going into ATSC 3.0, which is pretty tremendous, and how far we have come and how quickly.”

The visit to the test facility is part of a tour the FCC Chairman is taking of the southwest U.S.