Pace Accelerates on CTA Recommended Practices for ATSC 3.0 TV Receivers

By BRIAN MARKWALTER, CTA

The ATSC’s skyscraper infographic for explaining progress toward completing the suite of ATSC 3.0 standards is clever and appropriate beyond the construction analogy.  There are some well-known broadcast antenna sites atop some even better known skyscrapers.  Those TV signals make their way to millions of individual homes.  Completing the analogy, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has its own “house-sized” standards construction project creating a family of recommended practices for ATSC 3.0 TV receivers.

ATSC 3.0 is a complete transmission system with many tools at broadcasters’ disposal.  No single transmission will include them all.  CTA’s companion recommended practices provide guidance on how receivers should handle incoming ATSC 3.0 signals. CTA’s recommended practices, in a family designated as “CTA-CEB32,” will help close the loop between the broadcast side and receivers through industry agreed-upon guidance so that interoperability can be achieved in a mixed environment of independent broadcasters and TV manufacturers.

CTA-CEB32, Recommended Practices for ATSC 3.0 Television Sets, will consist of 11 parts plus an overview once work is complete.  All of CEB32’s parts are easily mapped to ATSC 3.0 standards, even though the numbering and grouping may be slightly different.

The pace of work on CTA-CEB32 is picking up as more of ATSC 3.0 becomes finalized and after roughly 30 liaison exchanges between CTA and ATSC.  CTA-CEB32.5 (Audio) was the first part of CEB32 to be finalized. CTA-CEB32.5 guides manufacturers in building receivers that can properly parse signaling in A/331 to then present audio from one of the two available audio systems.  CEB-32.5 recommends how receivers should handle Audio Presentations (e.g., Default English Presentation versus Spanish Presentation); allow the user to select among many options, including balance of Video Description and Main Audio Program components and Dialog Enhancement; handle transitions between different audio streams in a glitch-free manner; and set the output reference level for the all-important Loudness Control. 

CTA recommended practices for the Logical Layer and Video are approaching the ballot stage, and the Physical layer RP is being drafted.  Work begins next on System Integration.   All this is happening now under CTA’s R4 Video Systems Committee Working Group 18.  To get involved and shape how consumers will truly experience ATSC 3.0, send a note to standards@cta.tech.

ATSC Board member Brian Markwalter is Senior Vice President of Technology and Research at the Consumer Technology Association.