Broadcasters Seek ATSC 3.0 Rulemaking by October 1

WASHINGTON—Broadcasters are asking the Federal Communications Commission to complete a rulemaking to deploy the ATSC 3.0 broadcast transmission standard by Oct. 1, 2016. Raycom Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar Broadcasting, Tegna, Meredith, Gray, Hearst Television, E.W. Scripps and Hubbard, along with the National Association of Broadcasters and the Big Four affiliate associations made the request in comments filed on a petition urging the adoption of the new standard. A ‘Yes’ Vote for ATSC 3.0 
There’s been very little discussion in consumer media about the overhaul being proposed for over-the-air TV, but there’s at least one fan in rural South Carolina.

“I love the idea of stronger over-the-air TV signals by using indoor TV antennas, and those having mobile TVs,” wrote Spencer Karter of Greenwood, S.C. in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission on a petition to adopt ATSC 3.0 as the next broadcast TV transmission standard. ATSC 3.0 promises mobile reception and interactive capabilities now unheard of with the current over-the-air TV system.

Karter said he lives in “moderate to bad over-the-air digital ATSC 1.0 reception area” and can’t receive any of the big four networks over the air on an indoor antenna. Karter was none too happy about retransmission squabbles and blamed broadcasters for program blackouts, but said he was tired of paying “$145 a month” for DirecTV.

“The adaption [sic] of ATSC 3.0 will be a relief to cord cutters especially living in challenged areas like mountains, valleys, and tall buildings like apartments in New York City for example,” Karter wrote, along with some specific questions about reception in his area. ~ Deborah D. McAdams

“This timing will allow deployment to occur at the same time as the spectrum auction, enabling stations that will be repacked to save money by installing future-ready equipment that will support Next Generation TV,” stated Raycom, which owns 51 full-power TV stations in 19 states.

Pearl, a coalition of TV station groups supporting the deployment of mobile DTV, also urged an Oct. 1, 2016 adoption date, as did Meredith, Gray, and Hubbard in joint comments, and Tegna in its own.

Nexstar, with 74 full-power TV stations, asked the commission to move swiftly on 3.0.

“Next-Generation television does not require new spectrum, nor will it cause interference to existing technology,” Nexstar wrote.

Sinclair, with 173 TV stations in 81 markets, said it will have spent more than $30 million developing ATSC 3.0 by the end of this year, it said.

“The FCC has supported this effort over the past years by granting us multiple experimental licenses for both research and demonstration purposes. The broadcast, public safety, and consumer electronics industries are now united in their desire to implement Next Generation TV, and new stakeholders are becoming increasingly engaged in the effort,” Sinclair’s filing stated. “Now that the incentive auction is underway, it is finally possible to synchronize the deployment of Next Generation TV with the repacking of the television band next year. We encourage the FCC to maintain the momentum of our collective effort by releasing an appropriately technology-focused NPRM on Next Generation TV no later than October 1 of this year.”

One Media, a subsidiary of Sinclair, also called for a October 1 rulemaking.

The petition—which was put out for comment by the FCC in April—was filed by the National Association of Broadcasters, America’s Public Television Stations, the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association), and the Advanced Warning and Response Network Alliance. It requested voluntary deployment of ATSC 3.0 while simulcasting in the current standard to mitigate viewer and carriage disruption.

In reply comments, the four urged swift adoption.

“The potential benefits of Next Generation TV do not lie in a distant, theoretical future. ATSC 3.0 chips are in development, as is transmission equipment,” they stated. “Broadcasters, the consumer electronics industry and broadcast equipment manufacturers are ready to move forward if the commission will just let them.”

The coalition also asked the FCC to keep the process unencumbered, particularly since adoption would be voluntary and those doing so would continue to transmit TV signals using the current standard. They agreed with comments filed by AT&T and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association that pay TV carriers should not be required to carry ATSC 3.0 signals.

“Interested parties can address such carriage through negotiations,” they said.