Harris, NAB: PSIP Deadline Impossible

When the FCC ordered a May 30, 2008, deadline for the implementation of the ATSC PSIP standard, some saw a problem ahead for broadcasters.

Deep in its New Year’s Eve order on final DTV transition rules, the FCC called for PSIP and program guide information to accurately reflect what’s on the air—even when the program data is updated on the fly, such as when sporting events end and other programming begins—and also help viewers find a closed captions, multiple feeds and V-chip information.

“That won’t be easy!” Doug Lung wrote in RF Report Jan. 4.

Now Harris Corp., the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) have asked the FCC to kick that deadline ahead a year, to May 30, 2009. NAB and MSTV say further that some elements of the FCC’s PSIP vision won’t happen even by then.

“Broadcasters will not be able to implement the ATSC PSIP standard... by May 30, 2008 because the product is unavailable,” Jay Adrick, Harris Corp. vice president for broadcast technologies, referring to a new company product in a letter to the FCC. “Harris is in the process of testing a new product which will enable automated updating of PSIP information from its ADC automation system (the most widely deployed master control automation system in the U.S.) to the station’s PSIP generator, enabling broadcasters to comply with this rule.”

Deploying the software at hundreds of stations will take at least a year, Adrick wrote.

In addition, NAB and MSTV said real-time program updates are not on the immediate horizon, and they asked for “clarification” of the PSIP standard. “We... ask that the commission acknowledge that the real-time updates to the Event Information Table (‘EIT’) require automation capabilities which will not be available for several years,” the groups told the FCC. They said read-time updates are permitted, but not required, by the ATSC standard adopted by the FCC in its order.

The groups also asked the FCC to “clarify” that the order does not require PSIP to include information about the definition (standard or high) of the programming.