Applause and Jeers Over FCC Order OK’ing ATSC 3.0


As RBR+TVBR reported on Thursday (10/26), the FCC has included in its November Open Meeting agenda an Order that approves the use of the next-gen TV standard, known as ATSC 3.0.

This resulted in a strong endorsement of the plan from the NAB, as full details emerged as to what it will bring. But, it also came with another warning from an anti-tax group and pro-MVPD organization actively seeking support for its case against ATSC 3.0’s rapid deployment, should it come at a cost to consumers.

“The NAB thanks Chairman Pai and FCC staff for supporting a new, voluntary transmission standard for broadcast television,” said NAB President/CEO and former Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith. “Next Gen TV will reinvent free and local TV, offering tens of millions of viewers ultra HDTV, live and local broadcasting on mobile devices, emergency alerting that will save lives, and targeted advertising that will grow U.S. jobs and commerce.”

Smith added that the transition to ATSC 3.0 requires broadcasters to use no additional spectrum.

“Just as American broadcasters led the world in a consumer stampede to high definition television two decades ago, we are ready to usher in a new era of broadcasting that will be pro-consumer and pro-innovation,” he said.

Equally pleased with the Order’s appearance on the November Open Meeting agenda is Pearl TV — an alliance of eight of the largest broadcast companies in the U.S. dedicated to the development and rollout of ATSC 3.0.

Lauding the draft released by the FCC of the rule, which would allow broadcasters to voluntarily transmit next-generation digital TV signals, Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle said, “When the FCC votes to permit broadcast of next-generation ATSC 3.0 technology, it will be a clear win for the American public, which will gain an innovative new television future.”

Schelle noted that the Order is the culmination of a five-year effort “to reinvigorate the capabilities of over-the-air broadcast television.”

She added, “This vote will be an affirmation of the potential for local, over-the-air broadcasters to serve as an innovation platform for the future as they continue to develop new ways to serve their communities.  The expansive capabilities of ATSC 3.0 to provide enhanced emergency alerting, IP-based broadcasts that can work with Internet-delivered content, and a more flexible broadcast standard will be the foundation for new investments that will benefit local communities,  broadcasters, and advertisers alike.”

Pearl TV is a business alliance of Cox Media Group, the E.W. Scripps Company, Graham Media Group, Hearst Television Inc., Meredith Local Media Group, Nexstar Media Group, Raycom Media, and TEGNA.

“At Pearl, we have a shared interest in exploring forward-looking broadcasting opportunities, including innovative ways of promoting local broadcast TV content and developing digital media and wireless platforms for the broadcast industry.  The draft decision by the FCC to permit ATSC 3.0 transmission is both a turning point and a terrific opportunity for consumers as well as local stations,” Schelle said.

On the flip side of this is the American Television Association (ATVA), which this week stepped up its efforts to warn the American public and anti-tax groups that ATSC 3.0 will force consumers to shell out money for new TVs while leading MVPDs to raise their monthly bills in order to recoup the costs of acquiring the equipment necessary to bring ATSC 3.0 signals to customers.

In a statement released Friday, ATVA spokesman Trent Duffy noted that his group “appreciates that the draft orders approving a next generation broadcast standard and loosening restrictions on media ownership include some measures to protect consumers.”

But, he made it clear that ATVA looks forward to working with the FCC “to make sure the final orders do not result in higher bills for consumers, more broadcaster initiated blackouts and other loss of service.”