Next Gen TV Backers Seek Answers at Conferences

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(Image credit: Future)

Broadcast stations in 16 more markets are lighting up their ATSC 3.0 signals this summer, bringing the total to 47 metro areas. About 150 stations are involved, with many of them transmitting multiple channels in the NextGen TV standard. 

Since May, NextGen stations have popped up in Atlanta; Baltimore; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hartford-New Haven, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City; St. Louis; Little Rock, Arkansas; Orlando and West Palm Beach, Florida; and Sacramento, California. 

In Phoenix, where the “model market” launch has been underway for more than a year, Single Frequency Network (SFN) transmissions started in July. 

Following a year of pandemic-induced virtual development, the NextGen TV community will plunge into a new round of personal meetings in coming months. Among the issues confronting them are operations and competitive digital services. 

Supporters hope that many of the concerns will be addressed and resolved during the Advanced Systems Committee’s 2021 NextGen Broadcast conference, a live annual event in Washington, D.C., Aug. 25-26.   

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, part of the Pearl TV broadcaster consortium that also includes Nexstar Media Group, plans to show its first mock-up of a network operations center for 3.0, with an eye toward bringing stations together to operation effectively as a distribution network, Mark Aitken, vice president of advance technology at Sinclair and president of its ONE Media subsidiary, said. 

Also on the conference calendar agenda is the Consumer Electronics Design and Installation Association’s CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis on Sept. 1-3, where NextGen TV hopes to make inroads – prior to its next pitch to the CE industry at the Consumer Technology Association's CES 2022 in Las Vegas in January. 

Looking further into the future, by the time of the NAB Show convention Las Vegas in October, Sinclair plans to show off SFN capabilities and also mobile applications on “true consumer phones.” Aitken said that Sinclair’s chip subsidiary Saankhya Labs has made a deal with one of the handset makers (which he declined to identify) that supplies devices to Verizon. 

Another landmark in the ATSC 3.0 rollout will be the launch of a special NextGen TV showcase in the nation's capital in September. It will focus on the coordination of signals from two sticks: WHUT-TV, the public-TV channel, is handling several of the signals and the new WIAV-CD (a Class A station that Sinclair acquired late last year) will transmit channels. Program details and promotional plans (including political focus) are still being developed. 

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.