NAB Fires Back at ATVA on ATSC 3.0

The National Association of Broadcasters says the FCC should disregard what it calls ATSC 3.0 stall-tactics by the American Television Alliance.

ATVA, which has been battling broadcasters over retrans reforms, doesn't want the FCC moving too quickly on letting those broadcasters roll out the ATSC 3.0 advanced TV standard, saying it should put the broadcasters proposal out for comment first and citing issues like MVPDs potentially having to pay royalties for retransmitting the new signals.

In a letter to the FCC, NAB said that they are not seeking government subsidies for ATSC 3.0 equipment, that the transition to the new standard, which is incompatible with current sets, is voluntary and will be driven by the marketplace, and that no MVPD will be forced to carry a next generation standard signal (broadcasters will be initially simulcasting in the current standard).

NAB also takes issue with ATVA's failure to acknowledge any of the consumer benefits of the new standard—though, not surprisingly, ATVA was not looking to promote the standard—which NAB says includes "stunning improvements in picture quality, more immersive audio, expanded opportunities for diverse programming and enhanced emergency alerts."

NAB said MVPDs were looking to stall ATSC 3.0 to thwart competition.

"ATVA seeks to delay that progress to deny consumers alternatives to ATVA’s pay-TV benefactors for as long as possible," NAB said. "Certain of ATVA’s members are already offering 4K ultra-high definition programming. Unless the Commission authorizes Next Generation TV, the only way viewers can access such programming is by paying MVPDs or over-the-top providers."

NAB said the FCC should issue a Notice of Proposed rulemaking ASAP so that the interests of consumers and viewers, rather than ATVA, could be served.

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.