Category Archives: ATSC

Sinclair, Nexstar To Coordinate 3.0 Transition In 97 Markets

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group, the two largest station groups in the United States, today announced an agreement on how to coordinate the transition of OTA delivery of ATSC 3.0 TV service in 97 television markets.

The agreement, which the broadcast groups are calling “tentative,” follows an announcement earlier in the year that the broadcasters had formed a spectrum consortium aimed at aggregating spectrum, innovation, monetization and ways to enhance their ability to compete in the wireless data delivery sector.

Under the agreements, the broadcast groups are expected to share spectrum within their markets to facilitate the simulcast-channel-sharing ATSC 1.0 to 3.0 transition strategy under consideration by the FCC, the companies said.

The agreement announced today covers TV stations in 43 markets where both groups own stations and 54 other markets where only one owns or operates a station, they said.

More information is available on the Sinclair website.

Cooperation, Compromise Key To Successful 3.0 Transition

My TVN Tech Thursday story today (“Diginets Should Be Safe In 3.0 Transition“) delves into whether available encoding technology is up to supporting an industrywide effort to make it possible for TV broadcasters to launch ATSC 3.0 services on a voluntary basis while maintaining their primary and digital subchannels on which popular diginets are aired.

The bottom line from a tech point of view is that today’s latest MPEG-2 encoders, HEVC encoders and stat muxes are prepared for the task.

My story assignment was to examine this topic from a tech perspective with a special eye toward whether there will be room for the popular diginets now on air to stay on air in such a voluntary transition.

But there’s more to the issue than simply encoders and stat muxes. Whether broadcasters can actually implement a voluntary 1.0 to 3.0 transition will depend on an unprecedented level of cooperation and a willingness to compromise.

TV broadcasters repeatedly have demonstrated they can cooperate when it comes to tackling tough circumstances in their markets, such as one station losing a tower due to weather. I’ve reported many times over the years on fellow broadcasters who stood up to loan equipment, offer space on towers and provide other assistance.

That’s one level of technical cooperation, and broadcasters should be commended for their magnanimity in those types of circumstances.

But will they be so willing to cooperate in the channel-sharing/simulcast approach envisioned for the 1.0 to 3.0 transition in the ongoing FCC rulemaking?

Just as important will be whether they can make compromises that may in fact harm them in the short term to achieve the goal of deploying next-gen TV?

For instance, many broadcasters that channel share will be required to move to another broadcaster’s tower and antenna. Will that channel sharer be willing to leave uncovered pockets of viewers who receive the station today but won’t once its coverage pattern is identical to its host?

Another thorny issue may be bit allocation. Will broadcasters who have competed for years be satisfied that they are getting their fair share of bits when they channel share? (Harmonic addressed this question at the 2017 NAB Show. You can read about it here.)

The transition is based upon the idea that over time increasing numbers of consumers will replace their legacy DTVs with next-gen televisions. As they do, there will likely be the desire among many broadcasters to get on with things and fully take advantage of the new standard. As they do, there will be fewer and fewer bits in the market available for 1.0.

At that point, will the broadcasters in an ATSC 1.0 channel share be willing to transmit their legacy DTV as, for instance, a 480p widescreen 1.0 signal rather than a 1080i or 720p HD signal so they can pack their legacy service onto fewer channels? How will broadcasters with no interest in 3.0 react to that?

These are simply top-of-mind questions. Undoubtedly, there are many others. At the root of them all will be the dual themes of cooperation and compromise. Time will tell how they get answered.

SBG, ONE Media, TeamCast Shortlisted for IBC Innovation Award

Organizers of the IBC 2017 Innovation Awards have shortlisted ONE Media, TeamCast and Sinclair Broadcast Group in the content distribution category.

The companies are being considered for their Next Generation of Broadcast Platform project.

According to a press release jointly issued today by the companies, the project “reconsiders the traditional way” a terrestrial broadcast network is deployed and operated. One major difference is the implementation of a ‘standard agnostic’ transmitting technology as implemented by TeamCast.”

Sinclair has validated this next-gen broadcast platform beyond the lab with its deployment of an ATSC 3.0 single frequency network in the Baltimore area. The test began in March 2016. Currently, three SFN transmitters are deployed.

Experience gained from the deployment will help the broadcast group as it prepares for a future nationwide deployment, the press release said.

More information is available on the IBC website.


ATSC 3.0 Honored By InteractiveTV Today

InteractiveTV Today (itvt) has honored ATSC 3.0 as the “Most Significant New Technology” at the 11th Annual TV of Tomorrow Show, the Advanced Television System Committee announced today.

The award recognizes the industry’s “most innovative and disruptive technology, platform or product,” ATSC said in a press release.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by innovators in interactive television, a community that is beginning to recognize what’s possible with the emerging ATSC 3.0,” Mark Richer, ATSC president, said.

More information is available on the ATSC website.


Immersive Audio Plays Role In ATSC 3.0 South Korean Launch

South Korea launched 4K UHD TV using the ATSC 3.0 next-gen TV standard as a 24/7 over-the-air broadcast service on May 31.

A contact at Fraunhofer passed along a blog the company has written about the event that is informative. The piece, “South Korea Launches UHD TV With MPEG-H Audio,” focuses on the immersive audio system, which is understandable because that’s what Fraunhofer brings to the table as relates to ATSC 3.0.

The ATSC 3.0 standard allows regions -in this case a country- to select between MPEG-H and Dolby’s AC-4 audio system for next-gen TV. In the United States, the decision has been made to use AC-4.

However, the blog is an interesting read for broadcasters, regardless of where they are located.

Apple HEVC Adoption Is A Good Sign For Next-Gen TV

Much has been said and written, including various articles by me, about ATSC 3.0 being IP-based rather than relying on transport stream as in ATSC 1 (A/53).

That is a reflection of a philosophical underpinning of the new standard that aligns next-gen television to the greatest degree possible with the rest of “digital media.” (It’s always kind of bugged me that there is a distinction made between TV and digital media, because TV was the original digital media. But that’s a discussion for a different time.)

The point is ATSC 3.0 will be able to leverage all manner of developments available to other digital media platforms that were off the table with the original DTV standard.

A case in point is HEVC or High Efficiency Video Coding. In fact, ATSC 3.0 will enable an even more powerful extension of the codec known as Scalable High Efficiency Coding. Sinclair Broadcast Group plans to leverage this extension in delivering content to mobile devices. (See: “Sinclair Free Chips Offer Key To Mobile Future.”)

The architects of ATSC 3.0 should see Apple’s announcement this week of HEVC support in macOS and iOS 11 as a strong affirmation that they are on track in aligning the next-gen TV standard with the digital media industry at large.

An article by Dan Rayburn at discusses the Apple move.

A special thanks to Mark Donnigan, VP of marketing at Beamr, for sending me a link to the Rayburn article.


Richard Chernock To Deliver IEEE Symposium Keynote

Richard Chernock.

Richard Chernock, Triveni Digital chief science officer and chair of ATSC’s Technology and Standards Group (TG3), will deliver a keynote address at the IEEE International Symposium on Broadband Multimedia Systems and Broadcasting in Cagliari, Italy.

In the address, June 7 at 9 a.m., Chernock is expected to provide an update on the ATSC 3.0 IP-based broadcast television system for both streaming television and file delivery.

The IEEE International Symposium on Broadband Multimedia Systems and Broadcasting will feature plenary talks by world-renowned researchers, a variety of technical sessions and panel discussions focused on issues in the field of broadcasting.

More information is available on the Triveni Digital website.

ATSC Honors Skip Pizzi With Lechner Award

Skip Pizzi.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee honored Skip Pizzi, NAB VP, technology education and outreach, on May 17 with the Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award, ATSC’s highest honor.

Pizzi is chair of the Specialist Group on ATSC 3.0 System Requirements and Program Management. The group is responsible for considering development of ATSC 3.0 use cases and scenarios.

Pizzi also reviews the output of the TG 3 Technology Group to ensure it adheres to system requirements and coordinates the ATSC 3.0 development schedule.

ATSC presented the award during its 2017 ATSC Next Gen TV Conference in Washington.

The Lechner Award is presented every year to an individual representative of the ATSC’s membership whose technical and leadership contributions to the ATSC have been invaluable and exemplary, ATSC said.

The award is named for the late Bernard J. Lechner, the first recipient of the honor in the year 2000.

More information is available on the ATSC website.

Cord Cutting Quickens; Will It Only Accelerate Further?

I couldn’t help but think of a presentation Anne Schelle, managing director of the Pearl TV consortium, gave at TVNewsCheck’s 2015 NewsTechForum about ATSC 3.0 when I received a press release today from Plano, Texas-based The Diffusion Group (TDG).

While the main point of Schelle’s talk was about how the next-gen TV standard would one day enable TV news departments to reach viewers in new ways with new news products, she made an aside about a hope she has for ATSC 3.0: That in the future, consumers will buy new next-gen TVs, plug them in the wall, turn them on and begin receiving over-the air television.

No antenna — rabbit ears, leaf or rooftop. No fuss. Simply turn it on and start using it just like consumers do today with other electronics.

Schelle’s vision for 3.0 was rattling around the old noggin when I read the press release announcing TDG’s analysis of cord-cutter data.

TDG has found that more than half of all cord cutters have canceled their “legacy pay-TV service” (i.e., cable, satellite and IPTV subscriptions) over the calendar years of 2015 and 2016, and that one-third of them did so in 2016 alone.

(The findings come from a new TDG report: Life Without Legacy Pay-TV: A Profile of U.S. Cord Cutters and Cord Nevers.)

I could only wonder what those figures will look like in the not-too-distant future when 3.0 TV sets that can actually receive local network affiliates, O&Os, independent, public and diginet broadcasters without a hassle, as Schelle envisions, begin making their way into the U.S. market.

Paired with OTT subscriptions, these next-gen TV sets look as if they could contribute mightily to the growth of cord cutters and make pay-TV providers pine for the good-old days of 2015 and 2016.




Registration Opens For ATSC Conference

Registration is open for the Advanced Television Systems Committee’s ATSC 2017 Next-Gen Television Conference May 16-17 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington.

Sessions on the first day of the conference are aimed at technical experts, and those on the second day the program will look at ongoing ATSC 3.0 tests and trials as well as consumer research on what viewers think.

The May 16 agenda includes:

  • Overview of ATSC 3.0 and Deployment Readiness by Madeleine Noland, LG Electronics
  • Panel on station operations
  • Technical Deep Dive on Single Frequency Networks by Gerard Faria, TeamCast
  • Panel Discussion on Display and Rendering
  • Technical Deep Dive on HTML5 and the ATSC 3.0 Runtime by Mark Corl, Triveni Digital
  • ATSC 3.0 and the Spectrum Repack, Brett Jenkins, Nexstar
  • Technical Deep Dive on Advanced Emergency Alerting, Rich Chernock, Triveni Digital
  • Next-Gen Content Production — Feeding the ATSC 3.0 ecosystems, Skip Pizzi, NAB

The May 17 agenda:

  • Finishing the ATSC 3.0 Skyscrapper: General Contractor’s Report, Rich Chernock, Triveni Digital
  • ATSC 3.0 at the FCC, John Burgett, Wiley Rein
  • ATSC 3.0 Tests & Trials, including Pearl TV and Verance watermarking test, Anne Schelle, Pearl TV ; Sinclair Single Frequency Network Test, Mark Aitken, SBG; NAB Cleveland, Ohio, test station; Lynn Claudy, NAB; and LPTV Oregon test, Mike Gravio, Spectrum Rights Coalition
  • No Fake News: Editors from industry media survey the media landscape
  • What’s Trending: 2017 Consumers at Retail, Brian Markwalter, CTA
    Consumers on ATSC 3.0, Bill Hague, Magid Media Research, and Set Geiger, SmithGeiger
  • Virtual Reality is a Reality? Mauricio Aracena, Virtual Reality Industry Forum
  • Working Together: ATSC 3.0 and 5G, Per Frojdh, Ericsson
  • Checklist for ATSC 3.0 Implementaton, Rich Redmond, GatesAir
  • Bernard J. Lechner Award for Outstanding Service to the ATSC

To register, visit the ATSC website.