Tag Archives: ATSC 3.0

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.

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.

Quincy Media Chooses GatesAir As Exclusive TX Source For Repack

Quincy Media has selected GatesAir to provide transmitters, installation services and commissioning groupwide on an exclusive basis to meet its needs for the FCC-mandated TV spectrum repack, GatesAir announced today.

The deal includes new Maxiva ULXTE liquid-cooled UHF and VAXTE air-cooled VHF transmitters, while existing GatesAir transmitters at select stations will be modified to meet new channel assignments, the company said.

While the group has stations in all 10 repack phases, it is Phase 1 that is most concerning to Brady Dreasler, corporate director of engineering at Quincy.

“We are conducting tower studies at all sites to confirm what level of reinforcement work will be required,” said Dreasler. “But we feel prepared with our transmitter choices, and the new TPO levels for each of these channels.”

The GatesAir XTE exciter used in these transmitters “sets us up for ATSC 3.0 transitions coming out of the repack period,” he said.

Quincy Media and GatesAir are working on determining which existing transmitters can be channel-changed.

Dreasler and GatesAir are working on a plan to bring in temporary backup transmitters to station transmitter plants where space is limited while work progresses to meet repack requirements.

At sites where space is limited, the plan being considered envisions a trailer housing the temporary transmitter so that it can be moved from site to site to keep stations on-air while repack work is being done.

More information is available on the GatesAir 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.


Harmonic Tackles Channel Sharing ‘Fairness’ At NAB

Two pieces of good news from Harmonic for TV channel-sharers — whether they’ve signed on to a sharing agreement as part of the TV spectrum repack or they’re looking at how to implement a strategy to keep ATSC 1 service on-air while taking the long road to an ATSC 3.0 market transition — emerged April 23 after the company’s NAB Show press conference.

While mingling with several Harmonic employees, I asked if it is possible to find still more efficiency with MPEG 2 compression. What I wanted to get at is whether broadcasters can expect encoder technology to squeeze another digital subchannel or two into a 6 MHz assignment — something that could give broadcasters more options as they hammer out their sharing agreements.

Andy Warman, director of production and playout strategy and market development at Harmonic, confirmed that, indeed, more MPEG 2 efficiencies are possible and that the company will be demoing that at its NAB Show booth (SU1210).

Jean Macher, director broadcast market development Americas at Harmonic, provided further details.

We keep pushing the envelope on compression efficiency, and you will see that on the booth with a stat mux carrying four 720p channels in 19.4 Mbits,” he said.

Harmonic also is tackling the issue of fairness, which left unaddressed could be a point of contention between broadcasters sharing a single channel, said Macher.

When it comes to channel-sharing agreements, you need a way to make it fair and guarantee the broadcasters sharing the channel get the correct amount of bandwidth [defined in their channel sharing agreement],” he said.

A traditional stat mux inherently isn’t set up to address this issue. It examines the video signals it receives and dynamically allocates bandwidth at any given moment to the signal that needs it the most, such as a NASCAR race getting more and a talking head news show getting less.

Channel sharing introduces a foreign element to this mix, specifically fairness in bit allocation to competing parties. That never was envisioned when the stat mux was designed in the first place.

Harmonic is addressing that issue at the NAB Show.

“We came up with a new way of doing the statistical multiplexing where it is possible to define a guaranteed average bit rate in the long term while keeping the advantage of stat mux efficiency,” said Macher.

In the short term, this type of strategy will make the repack easier. Longer term, when the FCC authorizes 3.0, this attention to stat mux fairness will affect far more broadcasters than in the repack as the industry begins sharing channels en masse to keep ATSC 1 service on air locally while they build out and light up next-gen TV.  

To learn more, visit the Harmonic website.

Details Surface On 3.0 Audio Watermark Test

More information emerged today on an over-the-air test being conducted by broadcasters of ATSC 3.0 audio watermarking technology as first reported by TVNewsCheck on Feb. 9 (3.0 Watermark Test Is Foundation For Future).

The Pearl TV business alliance of eight major broadcast groups; Fox; NBC’s WVIT Hartford, Conn.; Univision; and Verance are working together on a test of the software company’s audio watermark as part of their existing ATSC 1.0 transmissions. The 3.0 audio watermark is compatible with ATSC A/53 DTV.

In 3.0, it will enable “the foundational data protocol that triggers … interactivity, personalization and even advanced emergency alerting” on ATSC 3.0 receivers, said a release jointly issued by the parties involved in the test.

“One of the great benefits of next-generation broadcast TV will be the ability to customize content and merge the capability of the Internet with broadcast programming,” said Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle.

Viewers in Phoenix; Orlando, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala., and Hartford, Conn., currently are receiving the audio watermark as part of the test, she said.

Broadcasters involved in the testing will evaluate how the watermark is being deployed, examine how it is retained from transmitter to receiver and look for other pieces of information that the test may reveal, Schelle added.

“The Verance solution activates broadband capabilities on broadcast content, providing viewers with advanced features uniformly across devices and platforms,” said Verance CEO Nil Shah.

Focus On ATSC 3.0 At 2017 NAB Show


TV broadcasters attending the 2017 NAB Show will travel to Las Vegas with two industry-transforming topics in mind: TV spectrum repack and the approaching rollout of next-gen TV based on the ATSC 3.0 standard.

Like it or not, the two are intertwined -so much so that at times it can be tough to tell where one topic begins and the other ends.

That’s especially true when it comes to the nitty-gritty of the technical decisions to be made about transmitters, antennas and other RF infrastructure for the repack.

While broadcasters are not allowed to pay for the expense of ATSC 3.0 deployment with reimbursements from the $1.75 billion broadcast relocation fund authorized by Congress, they won’t want to make a decision about moving to a new channel assignment without considering how to do so in a way that’s consistent with their business goals for next-gen TV service.

What follows is list of NAB Show and PBS TechCon sessions that address ATSC 3.0 directly, or in some cases, such as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s keynote, are likely to include important information relevant to next-gen TV.

Besides sessions, the NAB Show will offer special events and pavilions devoted to ATSC 3.0, which are also listed.

A special effort has been made to separate ATSC 3.0 sessions and events from those related to the repack for your convenience when planning your visit to Las Vegas. However, there may be some overlap. If your primary interest is the repack, I have segregated those sessions on a separate blog post found here.

Of course, more details about the sessions, pavilions and other ATSC 3.0 happenings are available on the NAB Show website and the PBS TechCon website.

ATSC 3.0 Conferences – Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center

  • “Sinclair’s 3.0 Vision – The Future of Broadcasting,” Saturday, April 22, 10:15-10:55 a.m., LVCC N262-N264.
  • “Transmission Site Planning for ATSC 3.0,” Sunday, April 23, 9:30-10 a.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Practical SFNs for ATSC 3.0,” Sunday, April 23, 10-10:30 a.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Planning for TV Spectrum Repacking and the Transition to ATSC 3.0,” Sunday, April 23, 10:30-11 a.m., LVCC N260.
  • “An ATSC 3.0 Test Station Grows in Cleveland,” Sunday, April 23, 11-11:30 a.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Nielsen Watermarks over ATSC 3.0,” Sunday, April 23, 11:30-Noon, LVCC N260.
  • “ATSC 3.0 Boosting the Signal Strength – MISO,” Sunday, April 23, Noon-12:30 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Implications and Optimization of Coverage and Payload for ATSC 3.0,” Sunday, April 23, 1:30-2 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “A Broadcaster Successful Re-Pack, ”Sunday, April 23, 2-2:30 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Realities of ATSC 3.0 SFNs in the FCC Regulatory Environment Making Them Work,” Sunday, April 23, 2:30-3 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Unifying the Future of TV,” Sunday, April 23, 3-3:30 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Single Frequency Networks (SFN) to Increase the Efficiency of ATSC 3.0’s Broadcast Infrastructure,” Sunday, April 23, 3:30-4 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Hidden Depths: ATSC 3.0 Frequency Sharing and Regionalization Explained,” Sunday, April 23, 4-4:30, LVCC N260.
  • “Getting ATSC 3.0 On-Air in Korea,” Sunday, April 23, 4:30-5 p.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Sinclair Broadcast Group Update on Repack and ATSC 3.0,” Monday, April 24, 9:30-9:45 a.m., LVCC N235-N237.
  • “Adaptive Polarization Technology,” Tuesday, April 25, 1:30-2 p.m., LVCC N256.
  • “ATSC 3.0 Coverage Study,” Tuesday, April 25, 3:30-4 p.m., LVCC N256.

Other NAB Show Sessions of Interest

  •  “The 115th Congressional Update: The Future of Broadcast Policy” – Business of Broadcast Track, Monday, April 24, 4-5 p.m., N253.
  • “FCC Chairman’s Keynote” – Business of Broadcast Track/General Session, Tuesday, April 25, 9-10 a.m., N249-N251.
  • “DTV: The Next Generation” – Business of Broadcast Track, Tuesday, April 25, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., LVCC N255.
  • “Addressable TV – “How Data & Analytics Enable Advertisers to Improve ROI” – Media Finance and Investment Program Track,” Tuesday, April 25, 2:05-2:50 p.m., N238-N240.
  • “Broadcasting Beyond HD: Global Plans for Next Generation Television presented by FOBTV” – Business of Broadcast Track, Tuesday, April 25, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

PBS TechCon 2017 at Caesars Palace

  • “Why ATSC 3.0 is Good for PBS Stations,” Wednesday, April 19, 5:40-6:20 p.m.
  • “Next2 Gen Connections: Preparing for Next, Next Generation TV and Digital Opportunities,” Thursday, April 20, 8:30-9:20 a.m.
  • “A Broadcasters Guide To The AC-4 Audio System for Broadcast & OTT,” Thursday, April 20, 1:30-2:20 p.m.
  • “5G: Transforming the Media and Entertainment Experience,” Thursday, April 20, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
  •  “ATSC 3.0 Signaling and Announcements Tutorial,” Thursday, April 20, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
  • “Night Owl Evening Session: Practical ATSC 3.0 Single Frequency Networks,” Thursday, April 20, 7-8 p.m.
  • “Let’s Get Physical! (In ATSC 3.0),” Friday, April 21, 9-10:20 a.m.
  • “Emerging Standard in HD and UHD High Dynamic Range,” Friday, April 21, 11-11:50 a.m.
  • “Planning for TV Spectrum Repacking and the Transition to ATSC 3.0,” Friday, April 21, 11-11:50 a.m.
  • “How ATSC 3.0 and Centralization in the Cloud Will Enable the Next Generation of Playout,” Friday, April 21, 1:30-2:20 p.m.
  • “Advanced Emergency Alerting – A Compelling ATSC 3.0 Application,” Friday, April 21, 3-3:50 p.m.,
  • “Revenue Potential with the ATSC 3.0 Lighthouse Deployment Model,” Friday, April 21, 3-350 p.m.

Pavilions & Special Features

Advanced Advertising Pavilion in the North Hall of the LVCC 

  • “Unlocking Revenue In A Data Enabled TV Ecosystem” Monday, April 24, 3-3:45 p.m.
  • “Mobile Video is the New Influencer: Top Trends & How to Master Them” Wednesday, April 26, 3-3:45 p.m.

ATSC 3.0 Pavilion

  • Monday, April 24 – Thursday, April 27 in the 2017 Futures Park, North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center
  • Exhibitors in ATSC 3.0 Pavilion: BBC, BitRouter, DekTek Digital Video, Dolby/Telos Alliance/Source Digital, ENENSYS Technologies, Harmonic, NERC/SJTU, Triveni Digital, UniSoft Corp.

Next-Gen TV Hub

  • Monday, April 24 – Thursday, April 27, in the Grand Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center;
  • 4K UHD TV transmitted OTA from KLSV-LD on Black Mountain in Las Vegas and received on an LG Electonics UHD TV with integrated ATSC 3.0 tuner; OTA reception for automotive and telematics;
  • HIghlights to look for: Better picture, immersive audio, accessibility, hybrid broadcast and broadband mobility, addressable advertising, audience measurement, advanced emergency alerting;
  • Collaboration of NAB, CTA, ATSC; sponsored by Pearl TV, Sinclair Broadcast Group, LG Electronics and others.