NextGen TV Debuts On 6 Baltimore Stations
Six television stations in Baltimore — Scripps’ WMAR (ABC), Hearst’s WBAL (NBC), Sinclair’s WBFF (Fox), Cunningham’s WNUV (CW) and Maryland Public Television’s WMPT and WMPB (PBS) — on Thursday became the latest in the nation to begin broadcasting with NextGen TV, also known as ATSC 3.0.
Based on the same fundamental technology as the Internet, digital applications, and other web services, NextGen TV can support a wide range of features currently in development, such as immersive audio and video (up to 4K), broadcasting to mobile devices, personalized viewing tools, and advanced emergency alerts providing rich media instead of simple text messages.
NextGen TV also allows full integration with 5G and other broadband-delivered Internet content. It will also offer new and improved ways for broadcasters to reach viewers with advanced emergency alerts.
BitPath, which is developing new data broadcasting services, led the planning process and coordinated efforts across the six stations. WBFF and WNUV will become charter members of the BitPath data broadcasting network, which will launch later this year.
All of the stations have worked together to ensure that current programming remains available to all viewers, regardless of whether their television service is provided over-the air or by a cable or satellite company. Antenna viewers can simply rescan their TV sets to ensure full service.
NextGen TV is designed to be upgradable so a viewer’s television advances with the latest technology. Features available on NextGen TV will vary by device and by broadcaster as commercial service becomes available in local markets.
Brian Lawlor, President of local media at E.W. Scripps Co., owner of WMAR, said: “Scripps is thrilled to help bring the next deployment of NextGen TV to Baltimore, a community it has served through local TV for many years. With this new broadcast technology, our Baltimore audiences represent some of the first in the country to watch local TV through NextGen’s immersive audio and visual experience. We’re proud to offer our viewers a deepened connection with the essential local news and entertainment for which they’ve come to rely on at Scripps.”
Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL, said: “WBAL-TV is thrilled to be able to help the rollout of NEXGEN TV in the Baltimore designated viewing area. This significant advancement in technology eventually will allow us to continue to keep our viewers safe and informed while also offering crucial community service to the citizens of Baltimore and beyond for generations to come.”
Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology for Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of WBFF, said: “Our company’s home is Baltimore, a city that has nurtured our appetite for growth and innovation. It therefore is only appropriate for us to usher in the latest revolution in broadcast technology to our friends and neighbors. We are excited to bring the benefits of Advanced HDR by Technicolor, Interactive broadcast applications and other NextGen TV features to our family and friends, and to provide them a new TV experience that is second to none.”
“It’s important for MPT to join other Baltimore area stations as early adopters of this powerful broadcasting standard that paves the way for a menu of important services,” said Larry D. Unger, Maryland Public Television president-CEO. “In keeping with our network’s statewide public service mission, we’ll also look forward to bringing the benefits of this new digital TV technology to viewers of all of our stations across Maryland.”
Michael Anderson, president of Cunningham Broadcasting, owner of WNUV, added: “As the Baltimore station converting to the NextGen Broadcast standard, we are delighted to be the “tip of the spear” leading the market and the industry in deploying these remarkable new capabilities.”
John Hane, President of BitPath, said “WBFF and WNUV extend BitPath’s coverage by more than nine million people and more than 2,200 miles of major traffic arteries. Maryland’s commuters spend more time in traffic than drivers in any other state. BitPath’s groundbreaking data broadcast services, including important free-to-air services, can improve commuting safety and eventually help reduce commute times.”