TV Of Tomorrow Tops ATSC Agenda

Broadcasters, engineers and technologists attending the annual meeting of the Advanced Television Systems Committee on May 10th in Washington D.C. were exploring a number of newer technologies for the next generation of television that are likely to take the broadcast industry into a new world of demand viewing, targeted advertising and rich-interactive video programming delivered to a plethora of devices.

Some of the topics examined at the meeting, include Ultra HD systems that offer much higher resolution than current HD standards, glasses-free 3D TV, mobile digital TV, the forthcoming ATSC 2.0 standard, and an even longer range look at TV technology standards that ATSC is calling NGTV, or next generation TV, that might take five to fifteen years to develop.

Mark Richer, president of the ATSC, noted in an interview that the group was working on a number of fronts to develop new standards and technologies that the broadcast industry will be able to use to transform its fundamental businesses.

While deployments of many of these technologies are years away, the ATSC is laying the groundwork for next-generation TV with its work on ATSC 2.0, a group of standards that will be completed by the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2012.

ATSC 2.0 will be backwards compatible with today's DTV broadcast standard, but will include a number of features that go far beyond traditional broadcast TV, including non-real time file based delivery for on demand content, advanced video codecs for easier delivery of HD content, 3D broadcasts, systems for personalized and targeted advertising that could greatly enhance the appeal of broadcast TV as a medium, and a wide range of interactivity using TVs and devices that are connected to the internet, Richer noted.

"The next major step is ATSC 2.0 and then the longer range is the next generation TV standard," Richer said. "NGTV will involve a completely new system as opposed to ATSC, which is a step in between and is backward compatible."

ATSC hasn't started formal work on NGTV but is currently "gathering information and reaching out to people and groups around the world to get a range of possibilities," and to identify a possible time frame for developing it, Richer said. "Some people think it will be five years and some think it will be 15 years."

"The first report of next generation technologies and issues will be presented during [the May 10] meeting," creating "a foundation to establish a strategic direction for the future," Richer added.

At the meeting, keynote speakers include Senator Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters and Dr. Keiichi Kubota, director general of the Japan's NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories, who discuss current research on digital television and their work on next generation HD systems.