President’s Memo: Rewind and Review – ATSC 3.0’s Big Year

1. April Pres Memo

As we wrap up the year, the ATSC hits the pause button and rewinds for a quick review of noteworthy 2016 happenings.  It’s our own “Top Five List” of the most important developments this year, in reverse order:

#5:  Welcome Recognition

The first woman to receive the ATSC’s highest technical honor, the Bernard J. Lechner Award, is TG3/S34 Specialist Group Chair Madeleine Noland from LG Electronics. Pearl TV Executive Director Anne Schelle is the first woman serving as an elected member of the ATSC Board of Directors.  (She follows in the footsteps of Warner Bros’ Wendy Aylsworth appointed by SMPTE as its representative on the ATSC board a while ago.) 

And here’s why this matters:  Shattering the glass ceiling, these remarkable individuals and many other industry female leaders are among the smartest, strongest and most passionate advocates for Next Gen TV. While infiltrating broadcasting technology’s “Old Boys’ Club,” they are playing a significant role in reinventing television.

#4:  ATSC 3.0 is On-the-Air

The nation’s first commercial television station launches 24/7 simulcasting with ATSC 3.0. Capitol Broadcasting’s Next Gen TV launch bookends another historic event 20 years ago when WRAL-TV was the first commercial HDTV station on the air with what’s now known as ATSC 1.0. Additional 2016 momentus broadcasts using ATSC 3.0 standards include Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s WJLA-TV single frequency network in Washington, Tribune Media’s WJW-TV World Series broadcast in Cleveland and the NAB’s ATSC 3.0 VHF field tests also using WJW-TV facilities.

Why this matters:  Pioneering implementations of ATSC 3.0 standards verify the promise of Next-Gen TV. And they set the stage for more experimental broadcasts and test stations in 2017 as a proving ground for everything from 4K Ultra HD and immersive audio to interactivity and mobile capabilities.

#3:  Ask the FCC

A joint petition for rulemaking – filed by the NAB, APTS, CTA and the AWARN Alliance – seeks the FCC’s blessing for the voluntary implementation of an industry-driven transition to Next Gen TV broadcasting.

Why this matters:  FCC approval will spur broadcasters and manufacturers to prepare for commercialization and unleash the full potential of Next-Gen TV enabled by ATSC 3.0.

#2:  Here Comes Korea

ATSC 3.0 is adopted as South Korea’s Next Gen TV broadcasting standard. With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games looming, Korean broadcasters and TV makers are gearing up for the 4K Ultra HD broadcast launch – as early as February of 2017. 

Why this matters:  Early adoption and implementation of ATSC 3.0 gives U.S. broadcasters confidence to make investments and begin transition planning. Economies of scale from early production of ATSC 3.0 chips and receivers in Korea also should benefit Next-Gen TV deployment in the United States.

#1:  Building the Standards

The lion’s share of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards is approved by members.

Finally, this matters because:  ATSC 3.0 standards establish the strong technology foundation for Next-Gen TV. Capping a watershed year, the ATSC delivers on its promise to bring the critical Next-Gen TV standards over the finish line – led by the approval of the A/321 and A/322 Physical Layer standards, followed by the upper layers.  All made possible by the collaborative efforts of our member companies.


Mark Richer, ATSC President