15 IN ‘15 ATSC Year in Review

Not since the heady days when ATSC 1.0 was being documented two decades ago has there been such a busy and productive time for the ATSC and its members. THE STANDARD wraps up the year with a look back at 15 memorable moments in ‘15:

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LET’S GET PHYSICAL. The new transmission system for next-gen broadcasting, known as the “Physical Layer” – encompassing 15 core building blocks developed by many ATSC member organizations – was the first major part of ATSC 3.0 to be elevated to Candidate Standard status.  

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HIGH WATERMARK. More key elements in the suite of ATSC 3.0 Standard were elevated to Candidate Standard status. To the layman, they may sound a bit obtuse, but the video and audio watermarking, service announcement, companion device and bootstrap Candidate Standards all represent important pieces of the overall ATSC 3.0 system, assuring a new level of flexibility and extensibility for broadcast television.

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THE BIG SHEW. ATSC 3.0 was a centerpiece of the annual broadcasting extravaganza known as the NAB Show – from the detailed technical discussions at the NAB’s Broadcast Technology Conference to high-level dialogues with senior broadcasting executives about how ATSC 3.0 will enable the future of television. A range of products and services utilizing ATSC Digital TV standards and emerging technologies were featured in the ATSC Technology Pavilion. All told, more than 50 ATSC member organizations exhibited on the 2015 NAB Show floor.
 
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LUMINOSITY.  Shining the spotlight on some of ATSC’s talented volunteer leaders, board members Rich Friedel and Dave Siegler were honored at NAB Show. Friedel of Fox received the 2015 NAB Television Engineering Achievement Award, and Cox Media’s Siegler received Broadcasting & Cable’s 2015 Technology Leadership Award. 

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HEAR YE, HEAR YE. Extensive testing and demonstrations showed excellent performance of two audio subsystems being considered for ATSC 3.0, which will be the world’s first television broadcast standard to include “immersive audio.”Audio Testing

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ON HIGH ALERT. The ATSC formed the new Implementation Team for “Advanced Emergency Alerting” to build on the ATSC’s existing Mobile EAS standard and leverage the robust transmission capabilities of ATSC 3.0. One implementation developed by ATSC members called AWARN (Advanced Warning and Response Network) is being tested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA Lab.

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SUPER DUPER. Appearing together onstage for the first time ever, leading trade association CEOs – Gordon Smith, National Association of Broadcasters; Michael Powell, National Cable and Telecommunications Association; and Gary Shapiro, Consumer Technology Association – sparred politely during the “Super Panel” at the ATSC Broadcast Television Conference. They actually agreed more than they disagreed, at least about the significance of next-gen television technology in the 21st century media mix.

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BOOTCAMP. Record turnout at the May ATSC 3.0 Bootcamp on the eve of the 2015 “Tune In to the Future” Broadcast Television Conference expanded beyond the usual pocket-protector crowd to include station managers and network executives – with the standing-room-only crowd of 100 all getting a deep dive on the various subsystems that will make up the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards.

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CORD-CUTTING. The Consumer Technology Association, one of the five founding-father organizations of the ATSC, launched is collaborative effort focused on receivers for ATSC 3.0. The new CTA R4WG18 “Receivers for Next-Generation Television Working Group engaged in liaison work with ATSC and made initial progress on defining 3.0 receiver parameters. This work coincides, not only with ATSC’s Candidate Standards, but also with the rebranding of the Consumer Electronics Association as CTA.

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SUPER STAR. Luke Fay of Sony fame earned the ATSC’s highest technical honor, the 2015 Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award recognizing Fay’s leadership as Chairman of the S-32 specialist group documenting the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer and Bootstrap Candidate Standards and as Vice-Chair of the TG3 Technology Group.

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TESTING-TESTING. Early field testing in 2015 of ATSC 3.0-related technologies in Cleveland, Madison and Seoul (by LG, Zenith and GatesAir) proved the capabilities of the future transmission system, delivering 4K UHD, Full HD and robust mobile signals simultaneously in a 6-MHz TV channel. Meanwhile, ONE Media announced impending ATSC 3.0-related field tests in Washington and Baltimore employing, among other things, single frequency networks.

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PLUGGING AWAY. China’s National Engineering Research Center for DTV (NERC-DTV) hosted a comprehensive “ATSC 3.0 Plug Fest” in Shanghai during October. Underscoring the global interest in ATSC 3.0, some 50 engineers and TV industry experts from around the world, including many ATSC members, demonstrated interoperability between prototype broadcast and consumer receiver equipment based on the ATSC 3.0 Phy Layer Candidate Standard.

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BETTER PIXELS. Complementing the work of various industry groups working HDR – high dynamic range – and other enhancements to 4K Ultra HD TV, the ATSC started its own work on HDR for ATSC 3.0. While 3.0 will deliver 4K content (with more than 8 million pixels) over-the-air, new enhancements like HDR and wide color gamut are of great interest to some broadcasters even for their non-4K content.

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COUNT YOUR CHICKENS. Pearl TV’s Anne Schelle was a good sport at the ATSC Broadcast Television Conference as top 2015 recipient of the ATSC Rubber Chicken Award for her hands-on leadership that gets things done. The ATSC is made better by her organization’s deep involvement as both a new ATSC member and as an integral player in the ATSC 3.0 standards-setting process.

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THREE-PEAT. The ATSC received it third Technical Emmy Award – for the A/85 commercial sound limiting technology behind the CALM Act.