Leading executives with U.S. TV station groups used the NAB Show in New York this week to pledge cooperation and commitment to a collaborative effort aimed at providing national ATSC 3.0 over-the-air broadcasts in the next several years.

Stations aligned with Fox, NBCUniversal, Pearl TV, SpectrumCo, Telemundo and Univision are moving forward to add services using next-generation ATSC 3.0 broadcasts that are expected to be receivable by supporting televisions from at least some TV makers by the end of 2020.

Concurrent with the show, top-tier TV manufacturers including LG, Samsung and Sony issued statements that welcomed the broadcasters’ efforts to advance and support widespread use of the ATSC 3.0.

The collaborative effort is important, in part, because implementation in any given market could be facilitated by broadcasters relying on each other through spectrum sharing and other means to begin ATSC 3.0 broadcasting while simultaneously maintaining their ATSC 1.0 transmissions, as required by the FCC.

In a statement celebrating the announcement, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) president and CEO Patrick Butler said Thursday: “America’s Public Television Stations welcome the commitment of Fox and NBC television stations to rapidly deploy the new ATSC 3 broadcast standard in the markets they serve. Public television’s 170 licensees operating 350 stations reaching more than 97 percent of the American people are fully committed to adopting this Next Gen broadcast standard as quickly as possible, and we are pleased to see Fox and NBC join us, along with the station groups represented by Pearl TV and SpectrumCo, in seizing this historic opportunity to reinvent television and greatly enhance our ability to serve the public.”

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The ATSC 3.0 standard will bring a wide range of capabilities powered by the melding of broadcasting and IP-based technologies. These advances will be left to the discretion of individual stations to implement in their markets, but recent studies have found a high level of interest among consumers for 4K Ultra HD and high dynamic range (HDR) content.

Other potential capabilities include advanced object-based surround sound, interactive capabilities and the ability to use of broadcast spectrum to provide broadband services that stations could provide for incremental revenue opportunities.

Adoption and implementation tests are underway in the so-called Phoenix Model Market Pilot Project in Arizona, led by Pearl TV, that recently added five other stations approved by the FCC to begin tests. SpectrumCo, which is an advocate of using spectrum for expanded broadband services, is also conducting tests in Dallas.


By Greg Tarr


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