FCC's Pai dismisses ATSC 3.0 opponents

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

The FCC will vote this week on an ATSC 3.0 next-generation TV draft order, but in the meantime FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is staying busy fending off critics of the proposal.

In prepared remarks delivered during the Reason Media Awards, Pai praised features like 4K video and immersive audio that will be available through the IP-based standards while also panning critics.

“To be sure, this innovation has its opponents. They dwell on the challenges inherent in any technological transition instead of embracing the benefits that innovation will bring. And they want to impose extensive government regulation that could strangle Next Gen TV in its infancy. To be sure, these opponents inherit a long tradition going all the way back to the late 19th century, when many denounced the development of the automobile. But this tradition is rooted in fear and opportunism, not freedom and opportunity,” Pai said.

RELATED: Eshoo, NCTA, CTIA pile on ATSC 3.0 order ahead of FCC vote

Opponents of the ATSC 3.0 draft order include representatives Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Michael Doyle, D-Pa., who sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last week saying that the order “in no way provides for an orderly transition process” and questioned whether broadcasters should be allowed to cut off ATSC 1.0 service after five years without educating consumers. The lawmakers are concerned that consumers will be cut off from receiving over-the-air broadcasts and that low power and translator station exemptions threaten to cut off Americans in rural areas.

“The Commission must rethink its approach to the ATSC 3.0 transition process. As it stands the order as currently written could deprive many Americans of access to free over the air broadcasts and force them to purchase new potentially expensive equipment just to retain access to broadcasts they receive currently,” the representatives wrote, asking the FCC to postpone voting on the items until it has rectified the problems.

Groups like NCTA and CTIA have respectively expressed concerns with how ATSC 3.0 patent pools could be run and how the transition must not extend the timeframe for or make more expensive the post-incentive auction channel repack.