ATSC issues reports on next-generation broadcast TV, 3-D TV broadcast

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) said Oct. 19 it has published final reports of two critical industry planning committees 19 that have been investigating likely methods of enhancing broadcast TV with next-generation video compression, transmission and Internet Protocol technologies and developing scenarios for the transmission of 3-D programs via local broadcast TV stations.

The final reports of the ATSC Planning Teams on 3D-TV (PT-1) and on ATSC 3.0 Next Generation Broadcast Television (PT-2) are available now for download from the ATSC website on this link:

The documents summarize nearly a year of investigation by teams of broadcast industry experts, working through the ATSC. According to ATSC president Mark Richer, the conclusions of the planning committees set the stage for "important ATSC standardization work."

"We are exploring backwards compatible approaches to 3-D transmissions, among other things, in our TG1 Technology Group while the new TG3 Technology Group is embarking on the longer-term project to define and standardize ATSC 3.0," he said.

PT-2, working on next-generation broadcast technologies, was charged with exploring options for what's been dubbed ATSC 3.0, including candidate technologies, potential services and likely timeframes, and without a requirement that the new system be backwards compatible with existing broadcasts.

Several potential technology components were identified by PT-2, including improved audio and video codecs and more-efficient modulation approaches. The Planning Team also looked into ways that TV broadcasts could seamlessly converge with a hybrid device that might get content from the Internet or other methods. Among the subjects probed by the team were content personalization and targeting, more immersive presentation forms, and advanced non-real-time content downloading services.

PT-1, the 3-D TV planning team, reviewed the visual sciences, existing technology, and the development of content for three-dimensional presentation. While 3-D television broadcasts provide the potential for significant enhancement to the viewer's experience, it was found that the how the content is created and presented are both important to a positive viewing experience.

Substantial sections of the report deal with human visual issues sometimes associated with 3-D viewing, with the planning team noting that many of the contributing factors are described, explained and accommodated by insuring proper viewing distances from the screen.

While recognizing limitations of depicting 3-D objects on a 2-D display, the PT-1 report also details various options for transmission of 3-D material, including use of both high-definition and mobile DTV channels and non-real-time caching of 3-D content for future viewing.