next generation television

Here are some of the FCC regulatory and legal actions of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC released the agenda for its June 9 Open Meeting announcing that it will consider an

The transition to ATSC 3.0, the next generation of television transmission, is underway as authorized by the Commission in 2017 (see our post here and our posts here, here and here on subsequent actions making that order effective and allowing TV stations to file to convert to the new standard).  This week, the FCC released a draft of an item to be considered at its June open meeting dealing with lingering legal issues about the services to be provided by television stations that are part of this transition.  The item to be considered, if adopted in June, will take two actions.  First, it will issue a declaratory ruling that the leasing of auxiliary and supplementary spectrum capacity on digital television stations for non-broadcast uses does not trigger the application of the FCC’s multiple ownership rules, which limit the number of stations that one entity can own or program in any given TV market.  Secondly, the item will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address what regulatory changes, if any, are needed to govern the types of non-broadcast content that will be provided by stations operating with this next generation television transmission standard.

The declaratory ruling addresses concerns that the use of broadcast television spectrum by various companies or consortia that plan to use that spectrum for all sorts of non-broadcast applications could trigger violations of the FCC’s ownership rules.  Those rules limit one owner from owning (or providing more than 15% of the broadcast programming to) more than two television stations in a given TV market (and only one station in some smaller markets).  When stations convert to ATSC 3.0, there are plans to offer a plethora of non-broadcast services, which the FCC describes in its draft decision as “Broadcast Internet” services.  These services could include sending updates to smart dashboards in automobiles and in other Internet of Things smart devices, updating utility meters, providing telehealth and emergency communications information, distributing smart agriculture applications, or distributing popular pay-video programming to user’s devices.  In many cases, to provide these applications, one company or consortium would seek to lease the ancillary and supplementary capacity of multiple stations in a market to assure that content was distributed as broadly as possible.  The fear was that such users leasing capacity on multiple stations could be deemed to have an “attributable interest” in such stations for multiple ownership purposes or simply for purposes of having to be reported on ownership reports and other broadcast applications.
Continue Reading FCC to Consider Exemption of TV Broadcast Internet Services from Broadcast Ownership Rules and Regulations for ATSC 3.0 Non-Broadcast Services

When the FCC adopted its Report and Order authorizing the “next generation TV” standard ATSC 3.0, it did not resolve all issues, instead leaving a few for further public comment. Notice of the issues raised in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register just before Christmas, setting February 20 as the deadline for initial comments on the outstanding issues, and March 20 as the deadline for reply comments. What issues are left to be resolved?

In allowing the voluntary transition to ATSC 3.0, the FCC required that stations choosing to transition to the new standard must enter into agreements with another station in their market to remain in the current ATSC 1.0 transmission standard and host a “lighthouse” signal rebroadcasting the primary video signal of the converting station on one of the multicast streams of the host station. The FCC recognized that not all stations would be able to find a partner with a signal covering the converting station’s city of license that could host the lighthouse signal in the old standard, and agreed to consider waivers of that requirement. The Further Notice raises questions as to whether the FCC should issue further guidance on the standards that it will apply to such waiver requests.
Continue Reading Comment Dates Set on Unresolved Issues for Next Generation TV ATSC 3.0 Transition – Comments Due By February 20

The FCC late yesterday released full texts of the decisions adopted last week to revise the broadcast ownership rules and approve the next generation television standard (ATSC 3.0). We summarized last week’s decisions, based on the press releases released after the meetings, in our article here. The full text of the ownership decision, available

At its meeting yesterday, as expected, the FCC approved significant changes to its broadcast ownership rules and also approved the roll out of ATSC 3.0 – the next generation television transmission standard. While any change in ownership rules is always a contentious issue, and thus the 3-2 strict party-line vote approving the ownership changes might not have been surprising, the television technology change adopted yesterday proved to be controversial as well, also being approved by a 3-2 vote.

As of the writing of this article on Friday morning, the final texts of these decisions have not been released, so the details of these actions are not available. We will write further about the decisions next week when we have had a chance to digest the final orders. But summaries of both decisions, and the texts of the Commissioner’s statements on the issues, were released late yesterday.
Continue Reading FCC Approves Ownership Rule Changes and Next-Gen TV ATSC 3.0 Standard

The FCC has released a Public Notice, as promised by FCC Chairman Wheeler at last week’s NAB convention, asking for public comment on the proposal filed by the National Association of Broadcasters, the Consumer Technology Association and others requesting that the Commission approve ATSC 3.0, the next transmission system for over-the-air television broadcasting.

On the eve of this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas, the FCC has been asked to approve the next generation of TV transmission – ATSC 3.0.  A broad coalition – broadcasters through the NAB and APTS (the public television association), technology manufacturers (through CTA – the Consumer Technology Association formerly the Consumer Electronics Association), emergency communications advocates (through the AWARN Alliance, which includes broadcasters) and ATSC (the TV technology standards association) have requested that the Commission approve this new technology for use by TV stations on a voluntary basis.  The petition (available here) asks that the FCC approval be granted expeditiously, no doubt so that roll-out could be timed with the repacking of the TV band that will be required following the broadcast incentive auction that is now underway.

The requested changes to the FCC rules are minimal – asking only that TV stations be able to adopt and use the new transmission standard, that stations using the standard be treated as TV stations for must-carry purposes (and providing for prior notice to MVPDs when the conversion is about to occur on a TV station), and to provide for TV stations who decide to convert to be able to continue to broadcast in the current DTV standard.  That continuation of service would be provided by allowing a station that converts to the new standard to simulcast one program stream on another TV station that is operating using the current DTV standard in the same market, as existing TV sets will not be able to decode the new transmission standard.  Here are some questions that we had when reading the Petition and answers to the extent that we can discern them from the filings made so far.
Continue Reading Petition Asking FCC to Approve Next Generation of Over-the-Air Television, ATSC 3.0 – What is Being Requested?