WASHINGTON—The wheels are turning on a radical departure from the way television traditionally has been delivered over the air. The Federal Communications Commission has put out a joint petition proposing the voluntary adoption of the developing transmission standard, ATSC 3.0, out for comment. ATSC 3.0 would allow the delivery of over-the-air television to resemble an Internet on steroids, with interactive features, advanced emergency warning capabilities, and multiple on-demand and personalized options as well as real-time, cross-device mobile consumption. The petition was filed April 13 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. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he would get the petition out for comment before the end of the month in his April 20 remarks at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. It was released six days later.
The petition asks the FCC to allow the voluntary deployment of the ATSC 3.0 core technology known as the “bootstrap” signal, which the Advanced Television System Committee adopted as a standard in March. (See, “First Element of ATSC 3.0 Approved for Standard,” March 28, 2016.) The petitioners laid out a landscape in which broadcasters and equipment manufacturers would work in tandem to migrate the U.S. TV broadcasting infrastructure to the new standard, with no mandatory timelines. It requests permission for simulcasting both 3.0 and the current standard, ATSC 1.0, since 3.0 is not backward compatible with 1.0.the first digital television transmission standard approved in the United States. Simulcasting, they contend, would most effectively mitigate viewer disruption. They also ask that ATSC 3.0 be given the same legal status that “television broadcasting” is given in the current digital television standard.
The FCC Media Bureau’s Public Notice sums it up as follows:
“The petition asks the commission to (1) ‘approve the next-generation TV transmission standard as a new, optional standard for television broadcasting;’ (2) ‘approve certain rule changes to permit local simulcasting to enable next-generation TV to be deployed while ensuring that broadcasts in the current DTV standard remain available to viewers;’ and (3) ‘specify that next-generation TV transmission is ‘television broadcasting’ in parity with the current DTV standard, and otherwise to conform Secs. 73, 74 and 76 of [the] rules to permit the deployment of this innovative new standard.’”
Comments are due on Docket No. 16-142 May 26; reply comments are due June 27.
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