Posted on May 1, 2012 in ATSC News
From all over the globe, they filled a giant meeting room of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the NAB Show to get an update on the Future of Broadcast TV (FoBTV) initiative, which included commentary from multiple regions and from standards organizations that all have a stake in the process.
Following the announcement of the official formation of the FoBTV Initiative, session moderator Ben Keen, who writes for SCREEN DIGEST in the UK, gave a short review of the current state of terrestrial TV and mobile TV implementations and noted that moving in a new direction with next-generation standards carries some risks.
“A clean sheet of paper is a very appealing prospect to engineers,” Keen relayed, “but we have to ask ourselves from a market perspective — is it really viable to consider a platform that is not backwards-compatible with existing devices? If UltraHD is part of the program, does it really make sense to deliver those kind of bandwidth hungry signals via terrestrial spectrum?”
ATSC’s Mark Richer, who was elected FoBTV chairman during NAB meetings, agreed that broadcasters are facing numerous challenges.
HOLISTIC APPROACH NEEDED
“When you’re starting with a clean sheet of paper, you need to have some notes first,” Richer explained. “Industries are driven by new technology, broadcasting is no different, it must continue to evolve. Spectrum is being sought, which is putting pressure on the broadcasting industry. I believe that next-generation technology can provide a ‘win-win-win’ solution.
“A holistic system engineering approach is best because we can help to drive down mass production costs. We know that handheld and mobile devices should work when we travel across borders. And our combined dedication to the principles of the FoBTV initiative shows the commitment of the broadcasting industry to embrace new technologies and encourage manufacturers to develop next-generation products.”
From a European perspective, Lieven Vermaele of the European Broadcasting Union reported that terrestrially-broadcast signals are very effective for delivery of linear content with complete, nationwide coverage and guaranteed quality-of-service.
“Broadcast TV is difficult to replace by other platforms. It creates market competition and is of great value to broadcasters. Broadcasting has to grow from linear to non-linear data service and mobile and portable services. Broadcasting and broadband will have to cooperate in the delivery solutions of tomorrow,” Vermaele said.
Last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan taught many lessons. “We have to make broadcast signals and broadcast plants as robust as possible against disaster. We have to keep the broadcasting service alive, even if the central station was destroyed,” explained Dr. Toru Kuroda of NHK, who also pointed to ultra-resolution HDTV as an “archive of broadcast culture and history for future generations.”
Kuroda said that work continues in Japan on bringing together broadcasting and broadband, on development of UltraHDTV, on improved 3D-TV that will not cause visual fatigue, and on broadcast access technology for the handicapped and elderly.
Wenjun Zhang, from the National Engineering Research Center of DTV in China told the group that terrestrial broadcasting is socially important in China and that the number of over-the-air viewers is expected to grow. He also said that “70 percent of the users watch 5% of the contents,” which is likely a common occurrence in other regions, too.
A SHARED VISION
Among those commenting on the session following formal presentations, was ATSC Chairman John Godfrey of Samsung, who told the assembled session that “the number one pressure is competition for viewer’s time and attention. The Internet is not going away. FoBTV should be both looking at efficient use of spectrum but also leveraging the Internet to make the broadcast experience seamless.”
“We need to have everyone involved,” said ATSC’s Richer. “The first step is to get broadcasters on board on a global basis. We need to make sure that we have a shared vision that addresses terrestrial broadcast technology around the world. It’s not that we want the other industries not to be involved – we absolutely do want them. We’re starting with the idea that we need to get the terrestrial broadcasters working and moving the ball forward.”
Posted in ATSC News
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.