NAB, CTA to FCC: For ATSC 3.0, Flexibility Is Key

Groups say market, not mandates, should determine course of next-gen transmissions
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Broadcasters and tech companies say the FCC should approve the voluntary rollout of the ATSC 3.0 next gen broadcast transmission standard ASAP and provide the maximum flexibility.

That came in comments to the FCC on its proposal to allow broadcasters to start simulcasting in the new IP-based standard, which will allow for more targeted advertising and emergency alerts, higher-resolution pictures, better audio and interactivity.

Filing the comments were the National Association of Broadcasters, America's Public Television Stations, the AWARN Alliance (emergency alerts) and the Consumer Technology Association.

They said the FCC's goal should be to give broadcasters as much flexibility as possible within their public interest obligations, calling for a Hippocratic oath-like approach: first, do no harm.

"[T]he Commission should adopt only those rule changes that are necessary to permit broadcasters to move forward with deployment, and allow consumers to determine how that deployment unfolds," they said. That means "do no more than necessary to regulate the interference environment," and no tuner mandates, HDMI port mandates, content mandates, signal quality mandates, coverage area mandates, or consumer education mandates, among other things.

The commenters do not want the FCC to mandate, for example, that the ATSC 3.0 simulcast be identical to the primary stream or what the simulcast should have in it at all, suggesting such a mandate would be a "slippery slope" on the road to content regulation and the better approach is only to require that the broadcaster provide one, free, over-the-air ATSC 3.0 programming stream.

"All the Commission needs to do to encourage investment, unleash innovation and drive a revolutionary viewing experience is give broadcasters permission to innovate in their existing footprint," they concluded.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said he wants to vote on a rollout framework by the end of the year. 

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