The Advanced Television Systems Committee’s work was not done with the conversion of the U.S. television system from analog to digital. Most recently, it took the initiative to add mobile transmission and reception to the DTV standard, which already is facilitating exciting new business models for broadcasters. Now it’s working on ATSC 2.0, which will include non-real-time file based content delivery, allowing for caching of programs and other data. And beyond that is ATSC 3.0 — the over-the-air transmission system that we expect to emerge a decade from now.
ATSC Is Busy Moving TV Into The Future
Two years ago we flipped the switch to digital, completing the first major change in American TV broadcasting since the Rose Parade was first telecast in color in 1954. After years of planning and sizable investments by broadcasters big and small, the end of analog full-power TV broadcasting signaled an important change in our industry.
The ATSC Digital Television Standard, with crystal clear HDTV and multichannel audio, ushered in a new era for TV broadcasters. But that wasn’t the end of the story for the Advanced Television Systems Committee — in a sense, it was only the beginning. As Will Rogers said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Standardization remains critically important for broadcasting, since our industry is based on an open system with professional equipment and consumer electronics manufacturers providing a variety of production, transmission and receiving gear that must work seamlessly to present the viewer with compelling services.
Since the digital TV standard was developed and adopted in the 1990s, ATSC has identified the requirements and led the development of standards and practices that are critical to the future of our industry.
Most recently, we took the initiative to add mobile transmission and reception to DTV with the A/153 standard, which already is facilitating exciting new business models for broadcasters. ATSC also decided to address the issue of annoying problems with excessive changes in audio volume leading to the development of the A/85 Recommended Practice.
More change is coming, and the opportunities ahead are exciting for broadcasters who want to add new services and options for viewers. Throughout 2011, we’re working to drive the ATSC Digital TV standard forward with a sweeping initiative known as ATSC 2.0.
ATSC 2.0 will include non-real-time file based content delivery, allowing for caching of programs and other data. It will also include Advanced Video Coding (to take advantage of the most recent advancements in compression) and the addition of conditional access capability to ATSC DTV, which will allow for subscription content in terrestrial broadcasts and enhance audience measurement capability.
ATSC 2.0 will leverage the marriage of Internet connectivity and broadcasting to help insure that broadcasters and receiver manufacturers have a rich toolbox of features to deploy in future programs and consumer products. This work on ATSC 2.0 is moving quickly and is expected to be completed in the next year.
Beyond these enhancements, we’re also beginning to work on ATSC 3.0 — the over-the-air transmission system that we expect to emerge a decade from now. While the specifics of ATSC 3.0 are still to be developed, it’s obvious to me that our future standards should be even more flexible, scalable and adaptable for future innovation. ATSC 3.0 must provide performance improvement and additional functionality significant enough to warrant implementation of a new system. The move to a whole new system will certainly bring new challenges, not unlike the issues we faced as an industry during the analog transition. But the opportunities ahead demand that we look down the road and chart broadcasting’s future.
Analog TV served our industry well for half a century, and our current ATSC 1.0 system is both successful and flexible. The move to ATSC 2.0 will certainly add new capabilities for our viewers. And looking ahead, we believe the road map for ATSC 3.0 will include a fresh array of new services and choices that will serve our industry for decades.
We welcome the involvement of to join ATSC and help determine our future.
Long-time broadcasting technology executive Mark Richer is president of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, an international, nonprofit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television.The ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite and semiconductor industries. For more information, visit www.atsc.org.