Sinclair Closes On 2 DC Class A TVs
Sinclair Broadcast Group closed Thursday on the acquisition of two Class A television stations located in the Washington, D.C., market. In addition to traditional broadcast programming, the company plans to use channel capacity from one of the stations to provide advanced “Broadcast Internet” services to demonstrate the sophisticated datacasting capabilities of the NextGen TV standard, ATSC 3.0.
WMTM LLC sold WIAV-CD (ch. 30, Washington) and WDCO-CD (ch. 24, Woodstock, Va.) to Sinclair for $8.5 million. According to Sinclair, the two stations “place a unique footprint over the nation’s capital, with WIAV being a ‘High-Power’ Class A facility authorized to transmit at 48 kW and WDCO providing a standard 15 kW Class A signal.” The two stations will operate from their own transmitter facilities but will be coordinated with Sinclair’s ABC affiliate in Washington, WJLA.
While operating in ATSC 1.0 service, WIAV will continue to provide UniMás programming pursuant to a channel-sharing agreement with Entravision and will also broadcast the TBD Network. WDCO will broadcast the TBD programming, as well.
By converting WIAV to the NextGen TV transmission standard, Sinclair says it will have a platform to demonstrate the multiple enhanced features of ATSC 3.0 “Mobile First” services. Based on the same fundamental technology as the Internet, digital apps, and other web services, NextGen TV’s over-the-air signals “can be easily integrated with broadband or 5G communication to create rich and engaging experiences, including customizable features based on user preferences and targeted content,” according to Sinclair.
It added that “no longer bound simply to fixed TV monitors, NextGen TV can support a wide range of services across multiple device platforms. IP-based delivery of high quality Ultra High Definition video with immersive audio services to fixed devices can be supported. Additionally, delivering high-quality, data services to mobile devices will also be possible for the first time, along with an increased level of security and privacy. ATSC 3.0 will also power an Advanced Emergency Alert & Informing (AEA&I) system currently in development, enhancing the ability of local broadcasters to deliver critical safety information to viewers and first responders.”
The station acquisitions coincide with the production of the first ATSC 3.0 broadcast-enabled cell phones developed by Sinclair through its joint venture with Saankhya Labs.
“We now have a prime showcase for the amazing features of NextGen TV that members of Congress and the Federal Communications Commission can witness first-hand,” said Chris Ripley, Sinclair’s president-CEO. “This platform will enable us to show to policy makers directly the incredible advantages broadcasters can bring to the public through the efficient use of our broadcast spectrum. Looking ahead, as we deploy this technology throughout the country, we are eager for continued collaboration within our industry to realize the promise of NextGen TV fully and are excited to bring this innovation to audiences everywhere, forever changing the way they use, and think of, broadcast television.”
To date, Sinclair, in cooperation with the broadcast industry, has deployed NextGen TV in seven markets with more scheduled for conversion by year-end.