ONE Media: Charter’s Next Gen TV Concerns are ‘Misplaced and Premature’

Sinclair tech arm responds to cable operator’s criticism of ATSC 3.0
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WASHINGTON—The battle over getting Next Gen TV onto pay-TV platforms is heating up.

ONE Media 3.0 LLC, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group focused on developing technology for the ATSC 3.0 television broadcast standard, fired back at Charter Communications over the cable operator’s criticism of the lack of standards for carrying ATSC 3.0 signals on cable TV.

Charter recently met with the FCC to voice its concerns about requiring cable TV operators to carry ATSC 3.0, citing the fact that it is not compatible with ATSC 1.0 and that broadcasters have not adopted standards needed for MVPDs to broadcast ATSC 3.0. ONE Media 3.0 said such concerns are “misplaced and premature.”

“At this time and for the foreseeable future, MVPDs will not require equipment to decode ATSC 3.0 signals because, with respect to the primary signal, a broadcast station that is transitioning to ATSC 3.0 must simulcast in ATSC 1.0 per the FCC’s rules,” said Jerald Fritz, executive vice president, strategic and legal affairs for ONE Media 3.0, in a letter to the commission. “As a result, MVPDs will continue to have an ATSC 1.0 source for the primary signal.”

Charter’s criticism over the lack of standards for ATSC 3.0 to be carried on cable TV platforms is also misplaced, Fritz said.

“Charter appears to confuse standards with flexible uses for non-television delivery of data,” Fritz wrote. “One of the extraordinary features of the ATSC 3.0 standard is its inherent flexibility enabling multiple service profiles. Broadcasters have been working closely with equipment vendors to establish basic television service profiles.

“This critical process, however, will have no impact on the availability of television services to MVPD subscribers,” Fritz added. “Moreover, there is no requirement for uniformity among broadcasters in order for MVPDs to make ATSC 3.0’s features and services available to their subscribers at such time as they agree with the broadcaster to carry the ATSC 3.0 signals.”

Fritz advocates a market-based solution to determine what ATSC 3.0 services MVPDs could offer.

“If a MVPD and broadcaster are motivated to add an ATSC 3.0 delivered feature or service to the MVPD’s platform, implementation will be achieved in a reasonable timeframe and based on mutual business objectives,” he said.

Fritz also criticized Charter’s contention that demand for ATSC 3.0 will be limited because some of its features are already available via IP, saying such reasoning was “backwards.”

“Enhancing the broadcast platform with features and capabilities that have already proven to be popular with consumers should increase, not decrease the demand for broadcast reception products and services,” Fritz said, adding that such deployment considerations have “zero impact” on MVPD access to broadcaster-provided programming.

“The implicit suggestion that the Commission should delay the rollout of Next Generation broadcast services because not all potential use cases have been identified and that some services may be available (albeit much less efficiently) by current MVPD internet providers reflects a particularly jaundiced view of the Commission’s regulatory role and should be summarily rejected.” Fritz said. 

For a comprehensive source of TV Technology’s ATSC 3.0 coverage, see our ATSC3 silo.