The next generation of over-the-air TV broadcasting continues its slow transition to the ATSC 3.0 standard with five stations joining the experimental Phoenix Model Market project.

The FCC this week announced that it has granted requests from five commercial and public U.S. TV broadcasters in the Phoenix market to test next-gen TV broadcasting. The stations will use the transmission facilities of Univision’s KFPH-CD, which was granted permission to begin its broadcasting as the test bed for the ATSC 3.0 project last March.

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The new stations joining the experimental project include ABC affiliate KNXV, NBC affiliate KPNX, CBS affiliate KPHO, Independent KTVK, and PBS station KAET, all of which will use the KFPH-CD transmission facilities in a collaborative testing endeavor.

“This is a very positive step forward and we are grateful for the authority to move the Phoenix Model Market project forward,” stated Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV, which is coordinating the Phoenix test market.

The Phoenix Model Market project was developed with a mission to test ATSC 3.0 television service and new business models, develop a framework for nationwide deployment of ATSC 3.0 service including the identification of best practices, test consumer devices, and collect real-time consumer input through surveys and focus groups.

In November the FCC adopted rules for the authorization of Next Gen TV standard transmission, and implemented a streamlined licensing process for the new technology in July.

During the process of the FCC’s Media Bureau revising its licensing system, stations are required to seek experimental authority, which was granted to the five stations.

As part of the approval, the stations have committed to continuing broadcasting an ATSC 1.0 signal over-the-air on their existing channels using their licensed facilities and to accommodate spectrum capacity constraints have requested the ability to rotate their individual guest signals on and off the host ATSC 3.0 station, KFPH-CD.

When completed the ATSC 3.0 standard is expected to bring broadcasters and consumers a wide range of new features and capabilities, including interactivity. The launch of ATSC 3.0 broadcasts will be voluntary by broadcasters, unlike the digital TV transition to ATSC 1.0, which was mandated.

Broadcasters will have the ability to choose the various features they broadcast including 4K Ultra HDTV, high dynamic range and advanced surround sound. It will also allow various interactive application, melding features tied to the internet with OTA broadcasting.

Once a best practices  transition policy has been adopted, broadcasters are expected to add ATSC 3.0 on a market-by-market basis, and in some cases stations may share spectrum to enable broadcasting both an ATSC 3.0 and ATSC 1.0 signal, to avoid leaving consumers with older equipment behind.


By Greg Tarr


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