NAB Hails FCC's ATSC 3.0 Draft Order

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith, whose trade group was urging the FCC for action on its proposed framework for the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard, got it Thursday, or at least the signal that the countdown had begun.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a draft order Thursday (Oct. 26) approving the voluntary rollout and scheduled a vote on the order and a notice seeking input on some issues, for next month.

NAB got a number of its major asks--including that the FCC not exclude those ATSC 3.0 signals from retrans negotiations with MVPDs.

“NAB thanks Chairman Pai and FCC staff for supporting a new, voluntary transmission standard for broadcast television," said NAB President 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."

"Notably, a transition to Next Gen TV requires broadcasters to use no additional spectrum," he said. That is because the FCC is proposing that stations pair up, with one using its spectrum to broadcast two ATSC 1.0 signals--3.0 is not backwards compatible--and the other two ATSC 3.0 signals, though the FCC is asking in the notice whether broadcasters should also be allowed to use vacant channels during the transition, something they had sought.

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

The new standard will deliver the 4K pictures that are HD's next generation.

"NAB thanks the bold vision and tireless work of countless broadcast engineers and consumer electronics advocates involved in the ATSC process," he said. "We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that broadcasters have maximum flexibility to bring the historic benefits of Next Gen TV to consumers."

The FCC will require the ATSC 3.0 and 1.0 simulcasts to be essentially identical, but has left some wiggle room for ads and interactive features.

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.