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ATSC Expands Work on Next Gen Broadcasting Standard

The Advanced Television Systems Committee Inc. (ATSC) has taken a significant step forward in the development of the next generation of broadcasting standards, ATSC 3.0, with the establishment of a new technical group that will focus on the issue.

The news is notable because ATSC rarely establishes new technical groups and because the development of ATSC 3.0 would mark the most significant change in TV broadcasting in decades.

While the work on ATSE 3.0 could take many years, the creation of the new technical group also shows a new sense of urgency in developing the technology.

"The current standard is 20 years old and technology is moving very quickly," noted ATSC president Mark Richer, in an interview. "If we want to make sure that broadcasters have the technology they need for their businesses in the future, we have to start work now."

As reported earlier this summer, 3.0 would usher in technological changes that would revolutionize virtually every aspect of the broadcast TV industry and would probably require significant new investments by broadcasters because it would not be compatible with either the current standard ATSE, or ATSE 2.0, which should be completed next year.

The new TG3 group will be headed by James Kutzner, senior director of advanced technology for PBS, who chaired the ATSC 3.0 Planning Team that had been working on the next generation technologies over the last year.

The Planning Team explored a wide array of technologies and held meetings in the last half of 2010 and the first half of 2011 that featured papers on various technologies that might be included in ATSC 3.0.

Based on the information created by the ATSC 3.0 Planning Team, the ATSC board recommended the creation of TG3 in July and that proposal was adopted by the membership on Sept. 2.

The creation of TG3 focusing on ATSC 3.0 will also allow ATSC Technology & Standards Group (now called "TG1"), chaired by Dr. Richard Chernock of Triveni Digital, to accelerate its current activities on the development of ATSC 2.0, NRT, 3D and Mobile DTV. 

Over the next year, TG3 is expected to focus on refining their strategy for the development of ATSC, laying down a series of milestones that they want to reach in the process of creating the 3.0 standard. They will also be asking a wide array of companies and groups for information and proposals.

A particular focus will be on making 3.0 standard interoperable, flexible and easily scalable, Richer says.

The group is also planning to work closely with international organizations and companies to create as much global scale as possible.

As part of that push for most international cooperation, the ATSC is one of the founding organizations backing The Future of Broadcast Television (FOBTV) Summit to be held Nov. 10‐11 in Shanghai. The summit will bring together leading broadcast television associations, research laboratories and standards development organizations from around the world to discuss technical advances in terrestrial broadcasting, consumer electronics and networking technologies.