Posted on January 6, 2021 in ATSC News
Brazil has issued a Call for Proposals to consider what happens next with the evolution of television in Latin America’s most populous country. Media technology consultant Skip Pizzi is coordinating ATSC’s response to the country’s call for proposals. Pizzi, who chairs ATSC’s new Brazil Implementation Team, sat down with THE STANDARD to answer some key questions:
Tell us about the Brazil TV 3.0 Call for Proposals. Why is it significant?
In Brazil there’s a group called the Fórum Sistema Brasileiro TV Digital Terrestre, or SBTVD Forum, which is a non-profit organization of private and public companies responsible for digital TV deployment in Brazil. It was established by the Brazilian government in 2006 as an open, non-profit organization. Its membership includes representatives from the broadcasting, software, professional equipment and consumer electronics industries, as well as academia. It develops standards and advises Brazilian regulators regarding the television industry there.
The Forum refers to analog TV in Brazil (the PAL-M standard) as “TV 1.0,” with backward-compatible additions of color and stereo audio as “TV 1.5.” It calls Brazilian DTV (using the ISDB-Tb standard) “TV 2.0,” and the Forum has recently approved backward compatible improvements to that standard (adding HDR, Immersive audio, and enhanced interactivity, for example), under the title “TV 2.5.” The latter recommendations are now being deployed and will continue for the next few years.
The Forum’s latest effort is the development of a new, non-backward-compatible, second-generation digital system that it calls “TV 3.0,” for which it has recently issued a Call for Proposals. This approach is similar to the NextGen TV system in the U.S. and Korea, in that it is planned as a full departure from the previous TV system, thereby allowing a wide range of end-to-end and forward-looking improvements.
The SBTVD Forum’s “TV 3.0” movement is important, not only because Brazil is a sizeable television market—and one that depends highly on over-the-air terrestrial TV broadcasting (pay TV penetration in Brazil is only around 15% of households)—but also because Brazil is viewed by other South American countries as a technology leader. Therefore, Brazil’s “TV 3.0” process will be watched closely throughout the entire continent and possibly beyond, as Latin American countries and other regions look to the future for their television broadcasting formats and supporting industries.
Why did ATSC as an organization choose to respond?
ATSC 3.0 is the result of a truly collaborative, international effort of over 130 ATSC members, so it made sense for the organization to present a unified response. Of course, individual ATSC members could also submit individual responses—and several already have—but since the ATSC 3.0 system fits the TV 3.0 Call for Proposals requirements so well, a singular response from ATSC seemed warranted, covering the full scope of the standard’s capabilities.
How well does ATSC 3.0 meet the TV 3.0 requirements?
At first glance, the similarities are so profound that it almost appears as if Brazil’s TV 3.0 Call for Proposals was reverse engineered from the suite of ATSC 3.0 standards. Of course, that’s not how this came about, but it does indicate how universal ATSC 3.0 is as a global, next-generation television standard—just as it was intended.
There are a few areas—very few—where the Call for Proposals departs from the current ATSC 3.0 specifications, but even there the flexibility and extensibility of the standard allows it to accommodate these exceptions, and that has been carefully addressed in ATSC’s response.
How does the selection process work and what is the role of the new I-Team?
The SBTVD Forum’s process in developing its TV 3.0 system is quite well thought out. It is split into two phases, the first of which calls for initial, high-level responses to a detailed schedule of requirements covering physical, transport, video, audio, captioning, and application elements. Those responses were due last November, although the deadline was subsequently extended to March 26, 2021 for the application elements only.
For submissions to Phase 1 that the Forum is interested in pursuing further, applicants will be asked to proceed to Phase 2, which requires a full specification of proposed candidate technologies along with supplying reference hardware, software and documentation to the Forum for use in its verifications and comparisons during lab and field tests it will conduct.
Given that Phase 1 required only written submissions, but Phase 2 requires actual, operational resources, ATSC’s engagement with the TV 3.0 Call for Proposals will shift from the full membership that participated in Phase 1 to the new Brazil I-team for Phase 2.
We were also happy to learn that the SBDTV Forum has already advised ATSC that its Phase 1 submissions for the physical, transport, video, audio, and captioning components have been accepted and that ATSC may proceed to Phase 2 (decisions on the application component remain pending while the extended Phase 1 submission window remains open). So the I-team has plenty to work on right away, since Phase 2’s detailed written submissions are due by the end if January, and equipment must be provided in March.
The Forum has an aggressive schedule. Brazil expects to conclude its testing this fall and select technologies to be included by the end of the year, with the TV 3.0 standard to be documented in early 2022.
What drew you to this project? What fueled your interest to lead the new I-Team?
I’ve been involved with digital television in Brazil over the past several years, working with the Brazilian Society of Television Engineering (SET), the SBTVD Forum and TV Globo (Brazil’s largest TV broadcaster). From these engagements I have developed a strong interest and many contacts in the region, so I was happy to accept ATSC President Madeleine Noland’s invitation to chair the new group. I’m excited by the opportunity to present ATSC 3.0’s many amazing capabilities for the potential benefit of yet another region’s broadcasters and TV viewers.
Posted in ATSC News
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