ATSC Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) combined its regular annual meeting with a 25th anniversary celebration in Arlington Va., this week, with events spanning three days.

A special commemorative program on May 8 began with a keynote address by former FCC Chairman, Richard Wiley, in which he praised the work of the organization in bringing digital and high-definition television to American viewers.

“The undeniable reality of the U.S. digital television experience is that we did it right,” said Wiley. “ATSC standards were not dictated from on-high by government bureaucrats. All segments (of the industry) were allowed to participate and we all benefited.”

The day’s activities featured panel discussions that highlighted milestones along the 25-year path to U.S. high-definition television, a look at the current situation with regard to acceptance of digital television by the public and the state of preparedness of broadcasters, cable operators and others in being ready for the cessation of analog television broadcasting next February.

Panelist Jim Goodman, president and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting Co. observed that as a boy he was on hand with his grandfather in 1956 to witness the first sign-on of Raleigh/Durham’s WRAL-TV.

“I’ll be there for the [WRAL-TV analog] turnoff,” said Goodman. “However, I haven’t decided if I’ll be the one to turn it off.”

David Donovan, MSTV president, was on hand to offer his congratulations.

“The ATSC’s success is due to all of you in this room who worked tirelessly to update and improve the system,” Donovan said. “American consumers are truly beginning to understand this technology and to reap its benefits.”

Donovan noted that through its work, the ATSC has provided a more efficient use of broadcast spectrum and that more than 100 MHz of spectrum will have been reclaimed in the nation’s conversion to DTV transmission.

Anniversary program activities also included a presentation of awards and recognition of individuals and organizations involved in the advancement of U.S. television.