NAB, CTA, Pubcasters Ask FCC for Voluntary ATSC 3.0

WASHINGTON – TV set makers are joining broadcasters on ATSC 3.0, the new IP-based broadcast transmission standard now in fast-track development. The Consumer Technology Association (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association), the National Association of Broadcasters, America’s Public Television Stations and the Advanced Warning and Response Network Alliance together filed a joint petition with the Federal Communications Commission to voluntarily implement ATSC 3.0, the standard being created by the Advanced Television Systems Committee. ATSC 3.0 would enable web-browser type functionality in broadcast television services, as well as delivery of Ultra High-Definition resolution, interactive emergency alerts, mobile services, immersive audio, datacasting, and service models yet unknown.

“This petition... asks the commission to amend its rules to allow broadcasters to use the signaling portion of the physical layer of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard, while they continue to deliver current-generation DTV broadcast service to their communities,” the filing states.

The petition requests the FCC approve the core “bootstrap” transmission technology for the new standard as an option for local broadcasters and receiver manufacturers. ( See, “First Element of ATSC 3.0 Approved for Standard,” March 28, 2016.) Since ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with the current transmission format (known as “ATSC 1.0”), the petitioners seek rule changes to permit local simulcasting so they could transmit both 1.0 and 3.0 to mitigate viewer disruption. They also ask that ATSC 3.0 be given the same status that “television broadcasting” is given in the current digital television standard.

Under the simulcasting approach, a temporary host broadcaster in a market would agree to simulcast the 3.0 signals generated by other stations in the market. The host station’s programming would reciprocally be carried as a programming stream by one of the stations deploying 3.0.

No additional spectrum or government funds are required for the new standard, and consumers would have no equipment mandates. Carriage by pay TV providers would be hammered out in negotiations, the petitioners said.

“This is an exciting time for the broadcast industry. Next-Gen TV will provide broadcasters with the voluntary option of offering a higher-quality viewing experience, an IP-based infrastructure and greater interactivity with viewers,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “We believe our viewers will be the beneficiaries of new services ranging from breathtaking picture quality to in-depth emergency alerts and more personalized program content.”

“From 4K UHD TV to mobility and more, ATSC 3.0 offers consumers the most immersive viewing experience and more viewing options than ever before,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association. “Our television manufacturers are excited to partner voluntarily with broadcasters, the public safety community and the ATSC to usher in this exciting new Golden Age of television technology and bring the benefits of this standard to devices throughout the home and beyond.”

“America’s Public Television Stations believe the Next-Gen broadcast standard will give us even greater opportunities to pursue our public service missions of education, public safety and civic leadership,” said Patrick Butler, president and CEO of APTS. “The FCC’s timely adoption of the new standard may also help public television stations save money by combining some of the investments needed to deploy the new standard and to affect the repacking transition required by the broadcast spectrum auctions.”

“AWARN will provide a resilient and pervasive emergency communications system for a 21st Century America, a major upgrade to systems we have now,” said John Lawson, executive director of the AWARN Alliance. “In response to manmade and natural threats, AWARN can deliver rich media, geo-targeted, and multilingual content—including video, storm tracks, evacuation routes, flood maps, and earthquake early warnings. And these alerts can reach millions of people simultaneously, even when the cellular network overloads or the grid goes down. ATSC 3.0 makes all of this possible."

David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair BroadcastGroup, one of the most active proponents of ATSC 3.0, said, “We are delighted to see the consumer electronics and public safety industries join broadcasters in taking our joint industries into the 21st century with a dramatic improvement in our distribution capabilities. Freeing the broadcasting industry as a powerful engine of innovation has been Sinclair’s long-sought goal. This petition is an important first step, and our hope is that the FCC will move with great speed to unleash that innovation.”

Elements of the Next-Gen TV standard will be on display at NAB Show April 18-21 in South Upper Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to featuring the first live Next-Gen TV broadcast in the U.S. originating from the “ATSC 3.0 Studio” (SU16712), the “ATSC 3.0 Broadcast Pavilion” (SU15709 – SU15814) offers broadcasters a variety of new equipment options and key technologies. The “ATSC 3.0 Consumer Experience” (South Upper Lobby) is providing demonstrations on the benefits of the new standard for viewers.

For more information about the Next-Gen TV standard, please watch this video produced by Pearl, a consortium of major U.S. broadcast companies working on the standard.