ROAD TO ATSC 3.0: Broadcaster Headway in South Korea


South Korea literally paved the Road to ATSC 3.0, adopting its Next Gen TV standard in 2016 and launching 4K UHD ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in May 2017. Momentum continues to build since the landmark UHD broadcasts of the Winter Olympics. In addition to UHD, broadcasters continue developing new services on Korea’s ATSC 3.0 service roadmap.


WORLD CUP. This summer, Korea’s three major broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS are transmitting more than 130 hours – up to 44 matches – of 2018 World Cup soccer games in 4K UHD with HDR or high dynamic range. (SBS is even transmitting with ATSC 3.0 immersive audio.) That means people in Korea with ATSC 3.0-enabled UHD TVs and an antenna can watch free over-the-air broadcasts of World Cup games in 4K at home.

PROGRAMMING ROADMAP.  Already more than 10 percent of the broadcasters’ programming is being produced in 4K. This includes dramas and documentaries, entertainment and sports, as well as news programs. Korean broadcasters will need to build more UHD studios to meet the plan for 50 percent UHD programming by 2023, and 100 percent by 2027.


Year                        UHD Goal

2018                        10%

2019                        15%

2020                        25%

2023                        50%

2027                        100%

IMPROVED RECEPTION. While producing more UHD content, broadcasters are working to improve indoor reception with ATSC 3.0. About 70 percent of the population lives in large apartment buildings, the most common housing style in South Korea. However, most apartments need to improve their master antenna television (MATV) systems to redistribute ATSC 3.0 signals from the rooftop antenna.

Broadcasters have established an association called “UHD Korea,” which aims to support over 180,000 households with upgraded MATV systems by end this year. They also are planning to build more transmission towers (each of them will be operating nearly 10 towers around metropolitan area in 2018) to further improve ATSC 3.0 coverage and reception.

MOBILE SERVICES. Broadcasters continue working on mobile ATSC 3.0 broadcasting following the successful PyeongChang mobile experience bus earlier this year. The Korea Communications Commission has granted experimental licenses for mobile ATSC 3.0 and broadcasters are working to establish ATSC 3.0 mobile services in Korea.

EMERGENCY ALERTING. On behalf of Korean broadcasters and manufacturers, RAPA signed an international agreement with the AWARN Alliance and NAB this spring to collaborate and advance ATSC 3.0 emergency alerting.

This summer, ETRI is teaming up with KBS, MBC, SBS, DigiCAP, Aircode, LowaSIS in coordination with RAPA and TTA to initiate a government-funded R&D project. The goal is to develop and test Korean advanced alerting service scenarios with ATSC 3.0 transmission system, according to ETRI Senior Researcher Dr. Byung-jun Bae.

INTERACTIVE SERVICES. Korean broadcasters have launched “TIVIVA” (a high-tech interactive television service using an integrated ATSC 3.0 broadcast-broadband solution that’s similar to European HbbTV). They are planning to update TIVIVA with more features like second-screen and news portal services expected to be launched at the end of 2018.

Jay Jeon is Manager of the Next Gen Broadcast Team at Korea’s broadcasting promotion association called RAPA. We’ll hear more from him in September about ATSC 3.0 and Korean consumers.