WatchTV gets FCC OK for ATSC 3.0 experiments

TV tower
The FCC has given its blessing to WatchTV to broadcast ATSC 3.0 signals on channels 16, 20, 35 and 38 in the Portland, Oregon, area for the purpose of gathering information on the new standards.

Broadcaster WatchTV has been granted special permission by the FCC to conduct ATSC 3.0 tests in the Portland, Oregon, area.

In a filing originally spotted by TV Technology, the FCC gives its blessing to WatchTV to broadcast ATSC 3.0 signals on channels 16, 20, 35 and 38 for the purpose of gathering information on the new standards.

WatchTV wants to learn more about the propagation characteristics of ATSC 3.0 in a geographic area where the terrain is more mountainous than in the prior experiments; to explore the capacity of the ATSC 3.0 platform to deliver multiple data services along with television programming in multiple formats; to determine the benefits of a multifrequency network for multiplying the data capacity of ATSC 3.0; and to explore the robustness and capabilities of a multifrequency system to deliver video and other content to mobile receivers.

The FCC’s special authority will give WatchTV six months to conduct experiments, which will be limited in hours of operation and number of receiving devices. With the support of a broadcast equipment manufacturer, WatchTV is hoping to find a suitable upgrade for its old transmitter.

“WTV is not only using its own resources in this project but is also being supported by an established manufacturer of broadcast transmitters for the U.S. market,” the company wrote in its application. “The KKEI‐CD broadcast transmitter is aging and needs replacement in any event. WTV has been able to acquire a software‐defined transmitter that can transmit in both the ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 formats, which makes it usable not only for the experiment but also for conventional ATSC 1.0 operation until such time as the Commission authorizes ATSC 3.0 on a permanent basis.”

WatchTV said that Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has been a vocal proponent of ATSC 3.0, has expressed support for WatchTV’s experiments and has offered to help.

RELATED: Sinclair CEO Ripley: ATSC 3.0 is going to ‘supercharge’ the broadcast business

Sinclair and its subsidiary One Media have been involved with other ATSC 3.0 tests, including tests in the Washington/Baltimore area announced in 2015.

Sinclair and One Media are eyeing multiple ways of monetizing the data captured by ATSC 3.0 Next Gen-enabled devices. The companies say that advertisers will get greater efficiency in spending with addressability and personalization, and broadcasters will get greater efficiency in reaching and capitalizing on a larger advertising market.

"This is about knowing the truth regarding who is watching, what they're watching and when they're watching," said David Smith, chairman of Sinclair, in a statement. "Data gathering, measurement and behavior is too important for us not to have a reliable system and there is an immediacy to have this in place to coincide with the rollout of ATSC 3.0.  Sinclair and One Media 3.0 intend to build it and make it available to the industry. We are currently working with device manufacturers and will shortly identify a test market in which to conduct live field trials."