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Sinclair to Launch First ATSC 3.0 Station in Las Vegas on May 26

(Image credit: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

LAS VEGAS—Sinclair says KVCW, the company’s CW affiliate in Las Vegas, will begin broadcasting in ATSC 3.0 on May 26, marking the company’s first commercial deployment of the NextGen TV standard.

KVCW was originally scheduled to launch 3.0 broadcasts just prior to the NAB Show in April, but the launch was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also resulted in the cancellation of the annual event. 

“Out of sheer caution, we decided to take a pause to determine the nature of COVID-19 engagement that was required—a lot of broadcasters had to take a step back,” said Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology for Sinclair and president of ONE Media LLC, a subsidiary of Sinclair focused on NextGenTV. “We really needed to sign off the 1.0 hosting players and it took a little extra time. We have a whole slew of deployments coming along, this will be the first of several.”

Sinclair is partnering with three other Vegas commercial TV stations to co-host KVCW’s 1.0 programming:

  • KTNV, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate, will host KVCW’s 1.0 CW programming;  
  • KLAS, the Nexstar CBS affiliate, will host three of KVCWs diginets: TBD, ThisTV and Comet; 
  • KSNV, Sinclair’s NBC affiliate, will self-host NBC and carry MyNet as a diginet

KVCW’s 3.0 programming will consist of  CW, CBS, ABC and NBC programming. All four stations will share equal portions of the spectrum, with Sinclair’s portion, “highly robust,” according to Aitken.  

Whether any viewers will be able to view 3.0 content depends on the availability of receivers. Samsung, LG and Sony all announced that NextGen TV sets will be available this year; thus far, Samsung and LG have announced that such sets are currently available at retail. According to the ATSC, 3.0 will be launched in more than 60 markets, reaching 70% of all viewers in the U.S. by the end of the year. 

The affected stations have been providing crawls at the bottom of their screens notifying viewers of the 3.0 launch for the past week. 

Although the pandemic has altered the work of its engineering staff in terms of the “new normal” of broadcasting from home, Aitken says SInclair has spent the past two months bringing its technicians up to date on NextGen TV.

“Internally we’ve been focusing on a fairly massive educational campaign with our regional engineers and chief engineers for the transition,” he said. “We’ve taken a different focus on readying those markets because we’re relying on local/regional engineering talent that doesn’t have to hop on a plane. It’s more of a ‘tap the brakes’ type of effort to spend some additional time educating them.”

Although KVCW marks Sinclair’s first commercial deployment of ATSC 3.0, the company has been partnering with other stations to test 3.0 over a signal frequency network in the Dallas area for the past several years.

For more information on ATSC 3.0, visit TVT’s hub page on NextGen TV.

This story was updated to reflect that LG's NextGen TV sets are now available.