FCC Opens Door to Next-Gen TV

Looks like the next-gen era in broadcast transmissions will begin May 28.

That red-letter day is when the FCC says it will start accepting TV station applications to modify their licenses to allow them to broadcast in the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard, which will allow for interactivity, targeted advertising, 4K pictures and more, though it will require a new TV set or adaptor to receive them.

Related: Pai Says FCC Is Working on New ATSC 3.0 Orders

The FCC authorized the new service in November 2018, saying the transition was a voluntary one--the analog-to-DTV transition in 2009 was not. But it could not start accepting applications until it had modified its online Licensing and Management System (LMS) to accommodate the new applications.

The application window will open for all licensed full-power and low-power stations and translators, but not stations licensed to share spectrum with a host station.

To speed the process, the FCC says it is a one-step process, which is not the case with "traditional" license modification applications.

Between its November authorization and this week, the FCC granted several temporary authorities to test ATSC 3.0. It said Thursday that no more test licenses will be granted absent unusual circumstances. Experimental stations will have to file for a modification before their experimental license expires or stop broadcasting in ATSC 3.0. The FCC is advising those stations not to wait until the last minute, but instead file at least 30 days before their temporary license expires. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.