GOING GLOBAL: ATSC 3.0 4K broadcasting launched in Korea


ATSC 3.0 broadcasting service is on the air in South Korea! Leading terrestrial broadcasters (KBS, MBC and SBS) started their main service – 4K Ultra HD channels – in the Seoul metropolitan area on May 31. Local broadcasters are now in the process of licensing to start their service by the end of the year. ATSC 3.0 signals are going to cover the whole country by 2021.

The UHD TV signals are the same as digital TV content (simulcast version of ATSC 1.0). Initially, most of the UHD content is up-scaled, with the exception of some programs produced with 4K cameras. The broadcasters are planning to increase the amount of 4K UHD every year. Native 4K UHD content is now about 8 percent (higher than 5 percent of the requirement for UHD broadcasting permission granted by KCC, the Korea Communications Commission) and is expected to reach 10 and 15 percent in 2018 and ‘19, respectively.

The genre of the 4K content will focus on programs that will emphasize the detail of the pictures such as documentaries, dramas and music videos (and, of course, live sports like the Olympic Games). And other programs will be increased after broadcasters complete the conversion process of their studios from HD to UHD.

In addition to 4K UHD, a number of other Next Gen TV services are being planned,   including:

  • Electronic Service Guides: KBS, MBC and SBS are now testing ESGs, which are expected to be launched commercially this summer.
  • Mobile HD Service: All Korean broadcasters are preparing for experimentalmobile service, and they will be ready for launch upon review by the KoreanMinistry of Science, ICT (Information & Communication Technology) and    Future Planning, followed by service permission from the KCC.
  • Home Portal Service: Expected to be offered by all Korean broadcasters starting this fall.

Preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics 

Korean terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS are preparing for 4K production during Pyeongchang Olympic Games in February 2018. They’re going to use their own production trucks, which are specially designed for 4K production.

SBS has already put its new 4K Outdoor Broadcast Van into service in preparation for the 2018 Olympics. MBC will add their new 4K vehicle in August 2017 and brought into service starting with DMC festival (MBC’s annual event) in September. KBS will be prepared at the second half of this year, too.

In parallel with broadcaster activities preparing for the Olympics, leading TV manufacturers LG and Samsung will introduce 4K UHD TVs in Korea this year with the capability to receive the new ATSC 3.0 signals.

Exciting Business and Technology Benefits

From the technological perspective, the IP-based standard enables OTT and Mobile service as well as improved pictures, sound and reception. These are all reasons Korea selected ATSC 3.0. From a business standpoint, with more services available with 3.0, it also has more benefits over alternatives in terms of economic growth opportunities.

South Korea is proud to be the global launchpad for Next Gen TV broadcasting powered by ATSC 3.0!

Jay (Kang Ok) Jeon is the Manager of the Next Generation Broadcasting Team at RAPA, the Korea Radio Promotion Association.