CHAIRMAN’S MEMO: Bullish Outlook

I’ve never been more bullish about the future of television. Virtually all of the key elements of our next-generation television broadcast standard, ATSC 3.0, are essentially done. Many C-suite broadcast executives are now focused on dealing with the spectrum repack and developing business models to take television to the next level for decades to come. And, equally significant, the FCC is on a fast track to adopt rules, hopefully this year, for the voluntary implementation of Next Gen TV using our standard.

When ATSC President Mark Richer asked me, in my role as Board Chairman, to provide my thoughts for the newsletter this month, I reflected on where we’ve come from and where we’re headed. Getting to where we are today is the result of countless hours of hard work by literally hundreds of the best and brightest technical minds in our industry. ATSC 3.0 represents a sea change that we haven’t seen since the dawn of television generations ago, and it’s perhaps even more significant as we move to an all-IP platform. I’m very proud of the ATSC’s efforts over the past several years, and although there’s still work to do, I don’t see any major technical hurdles.

That’s not to say that there won’t be some hurdles. The spectrum repack that affects 1,200 TV stations nationwide is pretty daunting. The repack process starts this year, but I’m bullish because there’s lots of momentum in the broadcast community to move forward in a positive way. They’re starting to deal with the logistics of the repack, working on channel-sharing plans and preparing for market-by-market transitions.

Equally daunting are business models. Simulcasting is a pretty obvious model; the question is what to do about all the new features of Next Gen TV. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for TV stations, but again, I’m bullish. The beauty of 3.0 is that it’s a really flexible and extensible standard with tons of capabilities yielding almost infinite possibilities. ATSC 3.0 will support a broad range of business models: from broadcast-broadband hybrid TV and interactive services, to 4K UHD and mobile and more

Finally, I’m very bullish about the regulatory landscape. Ajit Pai was a great choice to head the FCC. He gets broadcasting. Chairman Pai is a passionate supporter of Next Gen TV, and I think broadcasting will be high on the Commission’s agenda going forward. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Chairman and his fellow commissioners unanimously moving forward quickly with the Next Gen TV Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

This is a pivotal year for ATSC 3.0. We’ll get the standard done. Industry players will make key business decisions that set the stage for what happens over the next five years and beyond. We’ll likely have FCC rules in place to move ahead. Needless to say, I’m bullish about the future of television.

Richard Friedel, 2017 Chairman, ATSC Board of Directors

Friedel, Executive VP and General Manager for Fox Networks Engineering and Operations, was re-elected as ATSC Board Chairman for 2017. He also serves as President of the North American Broadcasters Association.

“bull-ish” adjective. 1: optimistic about something’s or someone’s prospects 2: suggestive of a bull (as in brawniness)        -Merriam-Webster Dictionary