President’s Memo: The End of the Beginning

A trip to the hardware store recently in suburban Cleveland left me smiling.  I asked a store employee if they had indoor TV antennas – he responded no, but  enthusiastically said  “a whole bunch are on order” with plans to fill out a whole new section of the store with a selection of TV antenna offerings. 

It seems that a whole new audience is discovering the benefits of over-the-air broadcasting. “Let’s hear a round of applause for TV antennas, often called ‘rabbit ears,’ a technology invented roughly seven decades ago, long before there was even a cord to be cut,” wrote Wall Street Journal reporter Ryan Knutson last month.  His story pointed out that millennials are a growing audience for over-the-air broadcasting. 

Just wait until those viewers see what’s coming! ATSC voting members are now considering the capstone of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards – with A/300 being considered for elevation from Proposed Standard to Final Standard.  A/300 is really the “icing on the cake” for the ATSC 3.0 process, as it represents the umbrella under which all of the other ingredients fall.  A/300 is the roadmap that shows how the 21 standards and related recommended practices work together.

While some might think that finalizing ATSC 3.0 marks the “beginning of the end,” in fact I look at the remaining standards decisions as the “end of the beginning.”  Indeed, the ATSC Board of Directors is already turning its attention to next steps. 

The ATSC is gearing up to support a range of initiatives – trials, plug fests, field testing, experimental broadcasts – all designed to prepare for commercial deployments by ATSC 3.0 stations.  Of course, we’re also awaiting word from the FCC this year for U.S. broadcasters’ permission to transmit with the new standard.

As stakeholders work together to bring the broadcast Internet Protocol pipe to a viewer’s home and mobile devices, ATSC “Implementation Teams” will play an increasingly important role going forward.  I’m pleased to announce two new Implementation Teams are being formed, and I invite interested parties to consider joining these important conformance and deployment efforts:

  • The new ATSC 3.0 Conformance Implementation Team will focus on conformance testing – a key factor in enabling the market introduction of systems and devices that are compliant to a new standard. Conformance testing will help assure interoperability among devices of different vendors. This testing facilitates the introduction of high quality systems and devices meeting the specification which drives the adoption and conformance of the standard.
  • ATSC board is in the process of forming another new I-Team focused on ATSC 3.0 Deployment. This group will take a broad look at the various options for implementation and what pieces need to be put together for deployment of ATSC 3.0 around the world.

These groups join to existing I-Teams, whose work continues apace.  The Advanced Emergency Alert Implementation Team is working on how to best implement ATSC 3.0’s advanced alerting functionality, while addressing business, regulatory and technical requirements for emergency alerting and Next Gen TV’s commercial rollout.  The Personalization and Interactivity Implementation Team focuses on the interactive capabilities of ATSC 3.0, working on market studies, prototype development, simulations and demonstrations, field trials, branding and marketing, and more.

Implementation Teams represent another great way for ATSC members to get involved and stay involved. Applications and more detailed information on Implementation Teams are online at ATSC.org. 

This fall, we expect to see most of the remaining elements of the ATSC suite of standard completed. The “end of the beginning” will mean an exciting new phase for ATSC members to make a difference as Next Gen TV moves from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Mark Richer, ATSC President

The ATSC Board of Directors congratulates Board Chairman Richard Friedel for earning recognition with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Science.  This special Emmy Award for Richard is a well-deserved honor, indeed!