CHAT ROOM: Next Gen TV High on FCC Chairman’s Agenda

In the Chat Room this month, THE STANDARD had the privilege of sitting down with the Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to get his views on Next Gen TV and the future of television for broadcasters and consumers.

THE STANDARD: Mr. Chairman, we know the Commission has a very full plate these days. Where does Next Gen TV rank in importance for the FCC’s current agenda?

CHAIRMAN PAI: Enabling innovation in the communications marketplace is a top priority for me. And, for far too long, federal regulators assumed that innovation only occurred outside of the broadcast industry. That’s never been true for me. That’s why I made it a priority to tee up the proposal to allow broadcasters to further develop and adopt the Next Gen TV standard. At the end of the day, I think ATSC 3.0 will help change the conventional mindset about innovation in broadcasting.

THE STANDARD: Under your leadership, the rulemaking for voluntary implementation of Next Gen TV using the ATSC 3.0 Standard appears to be on a fast track. How’s the process going, and what’s your expected timetable for completion?

CHAIRMAN PAI: That’s right. I had called on the agency to move forward with the new TV standard last year, and so I was pleased that we kicked off the Next Gen TV proceeding in my first full month as Chairman. We expect to hear from the public over the next couple of months, and Commission staff will thoroughly review the record over the summer. We hope to authorize the new standard by the end of the year.

THE STANDARD: What aspects of Next Gen TV do you – both as a regulator and as a consumer – consider most compelling?

CHAIRMAN PAI: There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this new technology. And that’s understandable. Improvement in picture quality with 4K transmission; immersive audio and video; the ability for broadcasters to provide advanced emergency alerts that are more tailored to a viewer’s particular location — all of these factors are great news for broadcasters and viewers alike. Harnessing the benefits of ATSC 3.0 will help broadcasters better compete in the digital age and, in turn, provide added value for consumers. We expect and want the United States to lead the world in technological innovation.