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NAB TV Engineering Achievement Award Recipient Pete Sockett Shares Honor With CBC Colleagues

Sockett
(Image credit: Capitol Broadcasting Company)

RALEIGH, N.C.—Pete Sockett, director of engineering and operations for Capitol Broadcasting Co.’s TV stations will be recognized at the NAB Show this year with the 2022 NAB Engineering Achievement Award for TV. Sockett is responsible for leading and steering the technology needs of CBC and preparing for the coming trends affecting broadcasting.

During his career, Sockett has been instrumental in a total rebuild of CBC’s HD technical plant, the launch of the first nonlinear HD newsroom, development of workflows for IP-ENG, implementation of Mobile DTV and Mobile EAS, creation of the first 4K-HDR documentary produced at a local TV station, the launch of the first commercial, simulcast TV station using the ATSC 3.0 standard and the launch of local sports channel WNGT.

Sockett sits on the board of directors for the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) and is the chair of the ATSC 3.0 Advanced Emergency Alerting Implementation Team. He has earned three Emmy Awards, Broadcasting & Cable’s Technology Leadership Award and an Edward R. Murrow award. He is a co-inventor of a patent for geolocation.

I had a chance to talk with Pete in advance of the show and anyone who knows Pete is well aware of how approachable and down to earth he is, which perhaps comes from his Canadian heritage. 

Pete grew up in the Toronto area and started out as an auto mechanic. Dissatisfied with his employment situation, he decided to take some electrical engineering courses at a local technical college and after graduating, started out his broadcasting career with CTV, Canada’s largest privately held broadcast network.

From there he moved on to WWJ in Detroit and WBBM in Chicago before settling in Raleigh, N.C. in 2003 to work for the Goodmon family, owners of Capitol Broadcasting Co.    

When he arrived at CBC, he was put in charge of operations at WRAL-TV but as time has gone on, his responsibilities have expanded to cover so much more, including OTT, DTV subchannels and college sports. 

Jimmy Goodman—junior and senior—have been the driving force behind WRAL for decades and Pete says they’re always wanting to do “the next great thing.”

“And it’s basically been my job to get it done,” he said.

Pete describes himself as a “relatively average good engineer, not particularly genius by any means,” and attributes the technical success of WRAL’s expanding media services to his engineering colleagues. 

“This award is for them,” he said. 

WRAL was a pioneer in launching ATSC 1.0 in the 1990s and is on the frontlines of deploying ATSC 3.0, having launched an experimental NextGen TV service in 2016. WRAL ceased that 3.0 transmission in September 2019 as part of the FCC TV spectrum repack broadcasting. Five years later, in 2021, it launched 3.0 on WRAL, WRAZ and WARZ-CD with WUNC soon to join.

Pete is optimistic about the future of 3.0 and the opportunities it affords. While it’s still early in the process, Pete and his colleagues are dealing with a lot of moving parts and trying to figure out what the “killer apps” will be. He also hopes that the industry will widely embrace the standard. 

“I really hope that everybody keeps working at it—across the industry, not just in small pockets,” he said. “The whole industry, in general, needs to pick up and run with it.” 

Pete will be recognized along with Ashruf El-Dinary, senior vice president of Digital Platforms for Xperi, recipient of the Radio Engineering Achievement Award, by NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt during the “Hollywood’s ‘Binge Times’ OTT Battle and NAB Engineering Awards”  session,  Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m.

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.