PRESIDENT’S MEMO: Structured for Success

When the ATSC Board of Directors and select guests gathered at KEYT in Santa Barbara, Calif., last month for our annual strategic summit, we discussed ATSC’s goals and priorities and how best to work toward those goals. It was great to have two full days of time with this very talented group of people. Not only does each person bring a wealth of industry knowledge to ATSC, but the interchange of opinions and information was exciting and productive.

Thanks go to our hosts at News-Press & Gazette and the very kind people at KEYT-TV for the great location and warm welcome. We had the pleasure of conducting our discussions at a fabulous outdoor setting with an incredible vista of the Santa Barbara valley as our backdrop. Thanks also to the ATSC staff for all their efforts to make logistics go smoothly, which allowed us to focus on the topics at hand.

Our strategy summit agenda covered a range of topics including support for commercial success of ATSC 3.0 in the U.S., extensibility of the ATSC 3.0 standard, the impact of 5G on the broadcasting industry, continued pursuit of recognition of ATSC 3.0 as an international Next Gen TV standard, and more. Capping each day was a session devoted to defining concrete to-do items that would move us toward our goals. Stay tuned to The STANDARD as the details emerge.

Ultimately, the direction and activity of ATSC is determined by its members. As such, some of the recommendations coming from 2019 strategy summit may result in forming some new groups that will provide structure forum for ATSC members to explore various topics.

In anticipation of this, I’d like to describe the three types of groups within the ATSC structure: Planning Teams, Technology Groups, and Implementation Teams. Why are three types? What is the difference between them? What is the scope of activity of each?

Planning Teams are groups formed to study a given topic, often prior to ATSC commencing any standards development effort. Planning Teams are formed by and report to the ATSC Board of Directors and are open to all ATSC members. They are free to explore a range of facets behind a topic including industry impact, technical viability and maturity, and more. Although they do not draft Standards or Recommended Practices, Planning Teams often produce recommendations for new ATSC activities related to the topic, such as formation of a Technology Group or recommendation for an existing Technology Group to work on a new project. Perhaps the most famous of ATSC’s Planning Teams was PT-2, which explored whether ATSC should work on a Next Gen TV standard, and those discussions ultimately resulted in ATSC 3.0.

Today, there are two active ATSC Planning Teams: PT-4 working on Future Video Technologies and PT-5 exploring Automotive Applications.

Technology Groups are formed to draft technical documentation.  These groups evaluate technologies for inclusion in ATSC Standards and Recommended Practices and draft these documents. They may also develop Technology Group Reports, such as ATSC 3.0 Initial AC-4 Implementation.  Technology Groups focus their discussions on technology, relying on other groups for any exploration of a given topic beyond the technical facets. Technology Groups are open to all ATSC members. They can create sub-groups, including Specialist groups, which in turn can form Ad-hoc Groups. Although Technology Groups are formed by the Board and keep the Board apprised of their activities, they do not report to the Board; they operate independently. Today, ATSC Technology Group 3 (TG3) is responsible for the ATSC 3.0 Standards and Recommended Practices.  Under TG3 there are several Specialist Groups, one of which is S39 which is responsible for the ATSC 1.0 documents.

Implementation Teams are formed to provide a venue for industry discussions related to implementation of ATSC Standards. I-Teams may address business, regulatory and technical requirements for successful roll-out of ATSC Standards. I-Teams do not draft Standards or Recommended Practices; however, they can create Implementation Guides such as the Advanced Emergency Information Implementation Guide.  They may also report findings back to Technology Groups if their efforts uncover areas where Standards or Recommended Practices could be improved. Implementation Teams are open to all organizations offering or planning to offer services or products relating to a given ATSC Standard, including both ATSC members and non-members. They require an additional fee for participation (members enjoy a lower fee). ATSC currently has three  Implementation Teams: the Conformance I-Team, Advanced Emergency Information I-Team and Personalization and Interactivity I-Team.

Each of these three types of ATSC groups has a special role in supporting industry and member goals.  They reflect the diversity of our membership and represent wonderful opportunities for members to work together to achieve both industry-wide goals and their own individual member goals.  And thank you to our board members for their strategic insights that I believe will result in well-focused activities that will make great use of our group structures and continued opportunities for member engagement.

Madeleine Noland, ATSC President