ATSC 3.0? Humbug! A Next Gen TV Carol (With apologies to Chuck Dickens)


A miserly old broadcaster named Ebenezer Scrooge is hunkered down at his TV station on a frigid Christmas Eve. His chief engineer, Bob Cratchit, slaves away in the back room, urging his boss again and again to make modest investments in ATSC 3.0 so they can survive until another Christmas. “Humbug!” says Scrooge. The station’s good-humored ad salesman, his nephew Fred, invites Uncle Ebenezer to the annual NAB Christmas party where festive chatter will no doubt turn to the promise of Next Gen TV. “Humbug,” Scrooge replies. Then, two jovial gentlemen named Richer and Friedel drop by and ask Scrooge to join the ATSC to help define the future of television. Scrooge reacts to the holiday visitors with his usual bitterness: “Bah! Humbug!”

Later that evening, after dozing off in his dark, cold apartment, Scrooge dreams of a chilling premonition about the future of television, learning that three spirits will visit him that night.


He awakens abruptly with the arrival of The Ghost of Television Past, a strange childlike phantom with glowing head shaped like a 4:3 picture tube. The spirit escorts Scrooge on a trip to Christmases throughout his lifetime. Scrooge revisits his happy childhood days watching The Lone Ranger and Superman on his family’s black-and-white Zenith console; next they see Scrooge as a young TV executive during his apprenticeship under a jolly GM named Fezziwig, who gets him excited about a new thing called ATSC 1.0 HDTV. They fast-forward 15 years re-visiting his celebration with his nephew about their station’s successful transition from analog to digital. Scrooge, deeply moved, sheds tears of joy before the phantom returns him to his bed.


The Ghost of Television Present, a majestic giant in dazzling high-dynamic-range attire, appears at Scrooge’s bedside and takes him on a journey to experience a contemporary ATSC 3.0 Christmas. Scrooge visits the Cratchit family home where he discovers the joy of the engineer’s son, Tiny Tim, as he watches live, local mobile TV on his smartphone. The specter then zips Scrooge to his nephew’s Christmas party where the festive crowd is gathered ‘round a giant ATSC 3.0 TV enjoying holiday shows in 4K. In awe of the deep indoor reception and excited to see the interactive, targeted commercials, Scrooge finds the merry gathering delightful. He pleads with the spirit to stay so he can enjoy all that ATSC 3.0 has to offer. But he is whisked back to his room where the spirit vanishes instantly as Scrooge notices a dark, hooded figure coming toward him.


The Ghost of Television Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a sequence of mysterious occurrences relating to an ominous future of television. With no interactive ads to sell, Scrooge’s dear nephew is begging on the street. With no mobile TV broadcasts, Tiny Tim can’t watch live TV on his tablet. Finally, Scrooge sees his precious TV station boarded-up. Anxious to learn the lesson of his latest visitor, Scrooge finds himself in a churchyard, the spirit pointing to a grave. Scrooge is shocked to see “ATSC 3.0” on the tombstone. He implores the ghost to alter his fate, promising to renounce his Luddite ways and to honor television’s future with all his heart. Suddenly, he finds himself back in his bed in a deep sleep.


Ebenezer Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning with joy in his heart. He spends the day with Fred’s family and anonymously delivers a 4K UHD TV to the Cratchit home. A changed man for years thereafter, Scrooge now treats everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion. He gives Cratchit a big raise and becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim, ultimately hiring him as his apprentice. Scrooge joins the ATSC, upgrades his TV station to 3.0 and leads the transition to Next Gen TV. After that fateful Christmas Eve, he now embodies the True Spirit of Television’s Future.

As the curtain falls, our story closes with the narrator echoing Tiny Tim’s famous words about ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV: “God bless us, every one!”