ATSC Salutes The ‘Passing’ Of NTSC – Press Release

For Immediate Release

Industry Leaders Welcome the All-Digital Broadcasting Age

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2009 – On June 12, 2009, over a half-century of over-the-air analog television transmission signals in the United States came to an end. NTSC analog television was 68 years old.

The first black-and-white standard for broadcast was born in March 1941 when the new standard developed by the National Television System Committee (NTSC) was adopted by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 1942, W.R.G. Baker noted in the foreword of Television Standards and Practice, “The National Television System Committee contrived to be and, in retrospect, most happily shows itself to have been composed of the best engineering brains and experience organized to develop a sincere scientific opinion for presentation to a national regulating body of great and soundly administered power.”

In December 1953 a second version of the NTSC standard was adopted, which allowed for color broadcasting compatibility with existing black-and-white receivers. NTSC was the first widely adopted broadcast color system.

The first publicly announced network TV broadcast of a program using the NTSC “compatible color” system was an episode of NBC’s Kukla, Fran, & Ollie on August 30, 1953, although it was viewable in color only at the network’s headquarters. The first nationwide view of NTSC color came in January 1954, with the coast-to-coast broadcast of the “Tournament of Roses Parade”, viewable on prototype color receivers at special presentations across the country.

The NTSC Standard has been replaced by the ATSC Digital TV Standard. The core technology was developed by the Digital HDTV Grand Alliance, the seven original digital TV proponents that codeveloped the best-of-the-best digital broadcasting system for the United States. In November 1995, the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service, chaired by Richard Wiley, concluded its nine-year process and recommended the Grand Alliance system to the FCC as the new digital TV broadcast standard. On Dec. 24, 1996, the FCC adopted the major elements of the ATSC Digital Television (DTV) Standard (A/53), The ATSC DTV Standard has been adopted by the governments of Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. All 1,600 full-power television stations in the United States went all-digital by June 12, 2009.

“As we end the era of analog television broadcasting, we celebrate its success and look forward to broadcasting’s exciting digital future. The NTSC analog television system was a technological marvel for its time that has served us well – we salute its innovators and pioneers for their spectacular achievements,” said Glenn Reitmeier, ATSC Board of Directors Chairman. “The ATSC Digital Television system brings broadcasting into the digital age – its flexibility to deliver various combinations of high-definition, standard definition and mobile television is just the beginning, as we continue to develop the tremendous potential of digital broadcasting.”

The Consumer Electronics Association reports that an estimated 140-150 million ATSC receivers will be in American homes by the end of this year.

“We will remember analog television fondly, but look forward to the all digital broadcast world” said ATSC President Mark Richer. “One of the great things about digital television is its flexibility and ability to evolve We are currently focused on the development of new standards that will enable mobile and handheld service (ATSC Mobile DTV), file-based non-real-time program delivery (ATSC-NRT) and the next generation of services for fixed receivers (ATSC 2.0).”

About ATSC

The Advanced Television Systems Committee is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television. The ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite and semiconductor industries. For more information visit


Lindsay Shelton-Gross, ATSC (202) 872-9160,