NAB Pilot Highlights Innovation for Public Service at ‘Broadcast Innovations’ Event

WASHINGTON—Just a couple of blocks down from the Capitol, NAB Pilot offered policymakers a look at innovations in TV broadcasting that are serving the public during its “Broadcast Innovations” event.

The first such event put on by NAB Pilot, the program took a close look at how new apps are helping spread local news and emergency information, as well as advancements on the horizon.

(From left to right) Diana Marszalek, Paul Brenner, Louis Gump, and Anne Schelle participate in "The New Broadcasters" panel during NAB Pilots' "Broadcast Innovations" event.

One of the main panels was “The New Broadcasters,” which featured NewsOn CEO Louis Gump, PearlTV Managing Director Anne Schelle and NextRadio President Paul Brenner, and focused on the new ways content is being delivered.

Gump highlighted the NewsOn app, which allows users to stream live or on-demand broadcasts of their local news stations from anywhere in the country. Supported by a number of broadcast networks, NewsOn currently features more than 160 stations in 108 markets. The app launched in 2015, but one of the big surprises, Gump said, is how many government officials based in Washington use the app to stay connected to their local news.

In addition to providing local information to those in Washington, Gump also stressed how NewsOn can be “public service magnified.” With the recent events with Hurricane Hermine, NewsOn was able to provide a new capability of sending push alerts to mobile devices. “Users got the alert, they could pick where they wanted to look… and they could find the information,” explained Gump.

This echoed the issue of emergency alert capabilities that Schelle and Brenner also brought up. But the key to further developing these services and others like it, according to the panel, is the advancement of ATSC 3.0. All of the panelists—and even other speakers like NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith—are calling on the FCC to move forward in their process of approving ATSC 3.0 for broadcasters to begin using as soon as possible.

“It’s really important that the FCC move quickly to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking this year so that we can sink the implementation of 3.0 during the repack timeframe,” said Schelle. “It doesn’t make any sense to do any kind of transition twice.”

(ATSC 3.0 is moving forward on its own, announcing today the final approval of its Physical Layer Standard.)

The rest of the sessions offered a number of updates and recaps of some other examples of recent broadcast innovations, including the use of UHD and other technologies during NBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics; the advancements of local broadcast; as well as drone, virtual reality and emergency alert technology, specifically the AWARN system.

The “Broadcast Innovations” event took place at the Newseum in Washington D.C.