ATSC to explore next-generation broadcasting spec that could be incompatible with today’s technology

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has formed a new technology group to develop “ATSC 3.0,” a series of voluntary technical standards and recommended practices for the next-generation digital terrestrial television broadcast system that would serve viewers and TV stations for decades to come. Don’t hold your breath, however, as it could take more than ten years to complete.

“ATSC 3.0 is a crucial long-term project that paves the way for futuristic terrestrial television broadcasting technologies,” said Mark Richer, president of the ATSC. “As we look to the horizon, the ATSC will be exploring technologies that perhaps haven’t even been invented yet.”

Because ATSC 3.0 is expected to be incompatible with current broadcast systems, and perhaps be compatible with other world standards (such as the European Broadcasting Union’s DVB-T2 scheme), it must provide improvements in performance, functionality and efficiency significant enough to warrant implementation of a non-backwards-compatible system, said Richer. The new technology group will consider interoperability with production systems and non-broadcast distribution systems, he said.

“The future of broadcast television is bright, both for the near- and long-term,” said Richer, referring to current work on ATSC 2.0, which includes Internet-enhanced broadcasting and non-real-time (NRT) and 3-D broadcast standards, as well as ongoing support for the ATSC Mobile DTV standard.

Formation of the new ATSC 3.0 Technology Group, called “TG3,” will allow the ATSC Technology & Standards Group (now called “TG1”), chaired by Dr. Richard Chernock of Triveni Digital, to accelerate its current activities including development of ATSC 2.0, NRT, 3-D and Mobile DTV. TG3 was recommended by the ATSC Board of Directors in July and adopted by the membership on Sept. 2.

ATSC Board Chairman, Samsung Vice President John Godfrey, has appointed James Kutzner as TG3 Chairman. Kutzner, senior director of Advanced Technology for the Public Broadcasting Service, chaired the ATSC 3.0 Planning Team for the past year.

At PBS, Kutzner manages engineering and technology projects. An ATSC board member, SMPTE fellow and IEEE member, he also is vice chairman of the Open Mobile Video Coalition’s Technical Advisory Group.