The FCC has officially put an ATSC 3.0 next-generation television draft order on the agenda and will vote on it Nov. 16, earning praise from across the broadcast industry.
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith applauded the commission for moving ahead with the voluntary television standards that will “reinvent free and local TV.”
“Just as American broadcasters led the world in a consumer stampede to high definition television two decades ago, we are ready to usher in a new era of broadcasting that will be pro-consumer and pro-innovation. NAB thanks the bold vision and tireless work of countless broadcast engineers and consumer electronics advocates involved in the ATSC process. 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,” said Smith in a statement.
Sinclair spinoff One Media also praised the order.
“This is a draft regulatory trifecta: Significant win for consumers. Major advancement for broadcasters. Powerful jolt for competition," Jerald Fritz, executive vice president of One Media, told Multichannel News. Fritz added that the new features available with ATSC 3.0 along with the voluntary deployment rules that will allow consumers to continue using their current antennas and TVs marks a “clear consumer and regulatory win without the imposition of heavy-handed regulation.”
The FCC’s draft order arrives after in February of this year Chairman Ajit Pai kicked off the rulemaking process for a commercial rollout of ATSC 3.0 standards.
Among the notable points in the order is a mandate that broadcasters opting to use ATSC 3.0 standards must partner with another broadcaster in order to simulcast ATSC 1.0 signals. The FCC is also requiring that ATSC 3.0 and 1.0 signals offer substantially the same programming for at least five years, although broadcasters won’t have to replicate advanced features of ATSC 3.0 over ATSC 1.0 broadcasts.
The FCC also plans to exempt low-power TV stations and TV translator stations from the ATSC 1.0 simulcast mandate.
In terms of MVPD carriage negotiations, ATSC 1.0 will retain their must-carry rights but ATSC 3.0 will not be afforded the same retransmission consent governance.
“We find that voluntary carriage of 3.0 signals is best left to marketplace negotiations between broadcasters and MVPDs,” the FCC wrote in its order.