PSIP Implementation Requirement Nears

Last September, the FCC released a Report and Order subsequent to its Second Periodic Review of DTV. A major component of the Report and Order is the adoption of the ATSC A/65B PSIP (Program System and Information Protocol) standard in its entirety, with the requirement for broadcasters to fully implement dynamic PSIP by Feb. 1, 2005. It requires transmission of all mandatory PSIP tables and descriptors, and also requires compliance with all A/65B "shall" statements. The R&O also adopts the major channel rules from A/65B, and requires that stations use the correct major channel number and the correct transport stream identifier (TSID).

The PSIP requirement is the result of a longstanding effort by the ATSC to persuade the FCC to require transmission of correct PSIP information. Since DTV broadcasting began, a number of US DTV stations have been observed to rather consistently broadcast either no or incorrect PSIP information. This can causes problems and inconvenience for DTV viewers, because some DTV receivers will not tune a DTV station that doesn't have PSIP information in its transport stream.

The R&O also adopts Amendments 1 and 2 to A/53, the ATSC DTV standard, which include Active Format Description (AFD), conflict avoidance rules for private data carriage, and audio language signaling rules. Further, an NTSC TSID is required to be placed in Field 2 of Line 21 of NTSC broadcast signals, and there is a requirement that, if any channel number is used for on-air identification of a DTV signal, it must be the associated NTSC RF channel number. The R&O also removes, for the time being, the previous DTV/NTSC simulcasting requirements.

ATSC A/65B, the PSIP standard, as well as implementation information, may be found at the ATSC Web site, ATSC will also conduct a half-day seminar on PSIP on Jan. 25, the day preceding the start of the HPA Technology Retreat, at the Retreat venue (see below).