FCC To Partner With NAB On NextGen TV-Focused ‘Future Of Television’ Initiative

The commission is also preparing a rulemaking on ATSC 3.0 rules, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said Monday at NAB Show in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS — The FCC will collaborate with an NAB-led leadership group called The Future of Television initiative to work through the “big-picture issues” around the transition to ATSC 3.0, also known as NextGen TV, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said at the NAB Show in Las Vegas Monday. Rosenworcel also said that she would be introducing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) around ATSC 3.0.

“Today, we are announcing a public-private initiative, led by the National Association of Broadcasters, to help us work through outstanding challenges faced by industry and consumers” Rosenworcel said during a speech Monday. “This Future of Television initiative will gather industry, government, and public interest stakeholders to establish a roadmap for a transition to ATSC 3.0 that serves the public interest. A successful transition will provide for an orderly shift from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0 and will allow broadcasters to innovate while protecting consumers, especially those most vulnerable.”

The initiative will be composed of three working groups. The first will focus on smoothly escorting consumers through the transition. ATSC 3.0 already is up and running in 66 markets covering 60% of the U.S., although very few consumers own NextGen TV-compatible TV sets or set-top boxes.

“ATSC 3.0 is not backwards-compatible,” Rosenworcel said. “To move forward, we need a solution. We can’t saddle consumers with unworkable sets.”

The second working group will focus on completing the transition to NextGen TV. “What are the conditions we need to put in place to get to the other side?” Rosenworcel said.

And the last will consider what the rules should be post-transition. “When we reach the future, we’re going to need clear rules and a clear understanding of how they fit into the overall environment,” she said.


The initiative will include representatives from the broadcast and consumer electronics industries, public interest advocates, and government representatives.

The FCC adopted rules in 2017 to support a voluntary, market-by-market rollout of ATSC 3.0, which first became available in 2020 in Las Vegas. Rosenworcel is proposing a rule-making that would update those conditions and propose more permanent rule changes around multicasting, simulcasting and other broadcast technologies.

“I applaud the fact that the FCC heeded our call on this,” said NAB President-CEO Curtis LeGeyt to reporters on Monday. “We were really focused on what the FCC could do externally. The reality is that this can’t work without us being hand-in-hand with the consumer electronics industry. It can’t work unless we continue to be accessible to viewers across the country. Our competitive advantage is that we reach our viewers via a free over-the-air signal rather than through an intermediary. We aren’t going to jeopardize that access.”

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