Category Archives: ATSC

New Guide Tackles TV Repack, Offers Guidance

Rohde & Schwarz today published a survival guide to help broadcasters successfully navigate relocating to a new channel assignment as part of the FCC’s TV spectrum repack.

The guide, Go 2 Repack: An Expert Guide to Technology and Logistics, provides practical advice and information on a wide range of issues the vast majority of full-power TV broadcasters must face as they enter the repack.

The FCC has estimated some 1,200 stations will be affected by the repack. When done, 84 MHz of spectrum, affecting channels 38 through 51, will be cleared for the wireless industry’s use.

Among the topics covered are:

  • An overview of the repack
  • Repack impact on LPTV and TV Translator stations
  • Determining the necessity of tower strengthening
  • Transmitter technology, including Doherty amplification, liquid cooling, station dummy loads, ATSC 3.0 readiness and temporary transmitter systems
  • Installation preparation
  • Planning to replace RF systems
  • Antenna selection for the repack and beyond
  • Antennas decisions for ATSC 3.0
  • Defending a station’s coverage footprint
  • ATSC 3.0 standard explanation

Sections of the guide are authored by RF experts from a variety of vendors. They include: Graziano Casale, account manager, broadcast and media, Rohde & Schwarz; Michael Couzens, VP, legal affairs, National Translator Association; Olaf Farhrenkroog, technical sales manager, Rohde & Schwarz; Ted Collora, SVP, Hanson Professional Services; Dan Fallon, senior RF engineer, Dielectric; Dave Benco, director of television sales, Electronics Research Inc.; Cory Edwards, sales manager, Dielectric; Casey Joseph, VP of sales and business development, LS Telecom; and Jerry Fritz, EVP for strategic and legal affairs, ONE Media.

The guide is available as a free PDF download from Rohde & Schwarz. Registration is required to download the document, and the link is at the bottom of the right-hand column under “Downloads” at the bottom of the web page.

FCC Adoption of Next-Gen TV NPRM Garners Industry Praise

The FCC’s unanimous approval today of a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement ATSC 3.0 has drawn industry kudos.

The AWARN Alliance issued a statement this morning praising the action. “We … appreciate Chairman [Ajit] Pai and Commissioner [Mignon] Clyburn acknowledging advanced alerting as one of the key benefits of the new standard,” said John Lawson, executive director of the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) Alliance.

The association representing U.S. pubic TV stations also praised the development.

“We believe the new standard holds tremendous promise for enhancing the public service missions of public television — education, public safety and civic leadership — in addition to dramatically improving the viewing experience of our audience and providing critical mobile capability to first responders and the public as a whole,” said Patrick Butler, president of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), in a statement issued today.

More information is available on the FCC website.




GatesAir Schedules Three Repack Webinars

GatesAir this week announced it will hold three webinars as part of its effort to help broadcasters by providing information that can help them have a successful TV spectrum repack experience.

The online educational events, part of the company’s “Mission Possible” webinar series include:

  • Repack in Review — A discussion of important highlights of the FCC incentive auction; its ramifications and ATSC 3.0 prep on Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. ET.
  • Navigating the Transition — A look at several topics, including post-auction preparation, channel assignments, site surveys, reimbursement and auxiliary transmitters on March 1 at 2 p.m. ET.
  • Repack Roundtable — A streaming group discussion by experts looking at topics, such as the repack impact on FM stations, small market station prep and ATSC 3.0 deployment on March 2 at 2 p.m. ET.

To attend, register online.

Rohde & Schwarz To Hold Spectrum Repack Events

Rohde & Schwarz this week announced it will host three events during the first full week of March to help broadcasters better understand the latest technologies that can help them as the TV spectrum repack approaches becomes a reality.

The events will be held:

  • March 6 at the Rohde & Schwarz headquarters in Columbia, Md.
  • March 8 at the company’s office in Flower Mound, Texas.
  • March 9 at its office in Burbank, Calif.

The events will feature technical papers presented in the morning and the chance to visit installations in the afternoon.

In addition to the repack, the event will examine preparations for ATSC 3.0.

RSVP by Feb. 20. Rohde & Schwarz has set up a registration web page.

As Interactivity Approaches, Don’t Forget Opt-In Admonition

ATSC 3.0 offers many new possibilities for broadcaster that television stations haven’t to date had at their disposal.

Many fall under the large umbrella known as interactivity. Some of the more obvious possibilities for interactivity include:

  • Delivering custom local news, weather and sports tailored to the preferences of the individual viewer or household.
  • Ditto for commercials based on demographics, desires and interests.
  • Delivery of program dialog in languages spoken by a relatively small number of people in a market.
  • Disseminating emergency evacuation instructions, directions and maps as part of AWARN-enhanced emergency alerting; and many others.

While reporting today’s Tech Thursday article, “3.0 Watermark Test Is Foundation For Future,” I interviewed Advanced Television Systems Committee President Mark Richer about ATSC 3.0 interactivity.

While ATSC develops standards, it doesn’t ordinarily make business recommendations to broadcasters about how they deploy the services supported by those standards.

However, Richer made the point during our interview that “we believe all these [interactive] services will be opt-in.”

That’s a word to the wise in my book, especially after reading “How To Stop Your Smart TV From Spying On You” by Brian Barrett on the Wired website.

If TV stations hope to get off on the right foot with viewers as they enter this new era of broadcasting made possible by 3.0 where internet connectivity is the gateway to important, new services and revenue opportunities, there can be no future in sneaking up on viewers and collecting data without their consent.

FCC Repack Notices Exhibit ‘Minimal Effort’ on LPTV, says Louis Libin

Louis Libin, executive directors of the ATBA, in a lighter moment.

One of my contacts for this week’s Tech Thursday article, “Repack Problematic Despite Some Progress,” on the FCC’s Jan. 27 repack public notices was Louis Libin, a man who wears many hats.

Many know Libin as president and founder of technology consultancy Broad Comm. Others have worked with him as national frequency coordinator for RF-laden broadcast events like the Democrat and Republican National Conventions.

Libin is also the executive director of the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, an industry group made up of broadcasters from the LPTV, translator and full-power communities. It is his role as an advocate for the interests of low-power and TV translator stations that made me want to get his perspective on the new repack public notices and what they mean for LPTV and translator stations.

What he had to say seemed to deserve standalone coverage, so I am presenting it here in the Playout blog.

In a nutshell, Libin says the public notices reflect “minimal effort” on the part of the Federal Communications Commission “to address the real LPTV issues.”

“They aren’t taking any new approach to LPTV. We’ve gone through this many times,” he says. “Their solutions for LPTV aren’t really solutions.” LPTV and TV translators are not included in the agency’s phased transition.  

“I think this is a very big mistake because in this new world, the next phase of television which will include ATSC 3.0, it seems to me that LPTV and TV translator stations will play a really big role,” says Libin.

On the very day this week’s Tech Thursday was published, the FCC published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to authorize deployment of ATSC 3.0 on a voluntary basis. Ironically, while the commission’s repack rules don’t address the real issue facing LPTV and translator stations, which can be summarized as no real protection from the outset, says Libin, it is these same stations that can help ATSC 3.0 realize its full potential.

“Put aside better audio and video for a moment,” says Libin of next-gen TV enhancements. “One of the biggest benefits of ATSC 3.0 is amazing mobile service, not just in one location but an entire coverage area or DMA.”

LPTV and TV translator stations are located “all over the place,” he says. This means they will be critical to a broadcast future where delivering mobile service is an important piece of the industry’s overall business model.

“LPTV will survive, be strong and have a more important role to play because of these new requirements of broadcasting,” he says.

FCC’s Next-Gen TV Rulemaking Notice Draws Praise

The FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to authorize next-generation television released today is garnering favorable reaction from both the Advanced Television Systems Committee and a coalition of major broadcast groups that has worked to advance the ATSC 3.0 standard.

A statement released this morning by ATSC President Mark Richer calls the NPRM “another important step forward for next gen TV.”

“We’ll look forward to seeing how various stakeholders respond to the Commission’s notice, and we’re hopeful that the NPRM process will be completed in a timely manner,” Richer said.

Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV, a coalition of large TV groups that together operate more than 220 TV stations, echoes Richer’s sentiment.

“As broadcasters focused on the development and deployment of new technology, Pearl is pleased that the FCC is poised to launch a rulemaking that would allow the voluntary adoption of next generation TV,” Schelle said.

ATSC Board Chooses Fox’s Richard Friedel As Chairman

Richard Friedel, EVP and GM of Fox Networks Engineering and Operations, has been elected to a second, consecutive one-year term as board chairman of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the ATSC board announced today.

Friedel, a SMPTE fellow, also serves as president of the North American Broadcasters Association.

More information is available on the ATSC website.



3 Out Of 4 U.S. Broadband Households Have Connected TVs

If there were ever concerns about the wisdom of building next-generation broadcast television as an IP-based standard, the results of research from The Diffusion Group (TDG) released this week should lay them to rest.

As of yearend 2016, 74% of U.S. broadband households have internet-connected TV, up nearly 50% from 2013 when half of such households had internet-connected TVs, the TDG research found.

More information is available on the TDG website.


Seoul Broadcasting System Goes On-Air In ATSC 3.0

Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) aired its first UHD TV broadcast in December 2016, introducing ATSC 3.0 to the peninsula in preparation to meet the nation’s commitment to telecast the 2018 Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 4K, Rohde & Schwarz announced today.

The over-the-air broadcast of a world cup short track speed skating race was transmitted with a Rohde & Schwarz liquid-cooled R&S THU9 transmitter system located on Gwanaksan Mountain south of Seoul, the company said in a press release.

It was the broadcaster’s first transmitter to go on air using the ATSC 3.0 standard. A nationwide network will be expanded with sites on Namsan, Yongmun and Gwanggyosan Mountains, Rohde & Schwarz said.

In August 2016, SBS decided to deploy an SFN-based ATSC 3.0 transmitter network using technology from Rohde & Schwarz with a 1+1 passive standby configuration.