ATSC updates “The Guide to the Digital Television Standard”

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has published a new updated document of “The Guide to the Digital Television Standard,” that brings together key elements of the ATSC digital television system and explains the underlying concepts in detail.

The revision, known as Recommended Practice A/54A, provides an overview and tutorial of the ATSC digital television system as defined in Standards A/52A and A/53B.

Jerry Whitaker, ATSC Vice President of Standards Development, said everyone from program producers to broadcast stations, and receiver manufacturers to hardware/software vendors will find it valuable.

The update is the result of a discussion among a wide variety of experts, and includes input from of the ATSC’s specialist groups: Video/Audio Coding (T3/S6), Transport (T3/S8), RF Transmission (T3/S9), and Receivers (T3/S10).

The revised document provides new information on:

  • Video. An overview of the video coding system is given, along with an explanation of the new Active Format Description feature.
  • Audio. The fundamental principles of the AC-3 coding system are discussed, and guidelines are given for typical use.
  • Transport. A summary of the transport structure is provided, including an informative discussion of MPEG-2 syntax tables.
  • RF. the essential characteristics of the DTV RF system for terrestrial and cable distribution are given.
  • Receiving devices. The general parameters affecting reception of DTV signals are given, along with an overview of the basic Grand Alliance receiver design.

The ATSC is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries.

The new Recommended Practice and related documents can be downloaded at

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