Interesting article, although I don't understand what the fuss is about. MVPDs
never carried ATSC 1.0. Why Should ATSC 3.0 be any different? The broadcasters
ought to negotiate with MVPDs for the content the MVPD can carry, irrespective
of how that content is transmitted OTA? Also, MVPDs don't support UHD, so until
they do, even that should be a non-issue. Whatever the OTA broadcasters have
been transmitting to date, the MVPDs retransmit in analog, SD, and/or HD, using
their own physical layer and their own frame formats. I don't see why ATSC 3.0
should have any impact.
The article describes a heated debate about compliance with A/322. I have to
believe this has nothing to do with MVPDs. A/322 is a detailed physical layer
standard for ATSC 3.0, an OFDM standard, describing error correction codes,
pilots, modulation options, even MIMO. If the debate is whether CE vendors have
to comply with it, I thought the answer was "only if they feel like it"? It's
voluntary, no? LG says yes, obviously, as they were a major participant,
however voluntary means voluntary. I've been wondering what the uptake will be
for a long time.
But this quote, I just could not resist. Although I wouldn't go as far as to
say that the FCC should not authorize ATSC 3.0, the rest seems realistic to me:
"'I do not think it a good idea for the government to authorize official use of
airwave spectrum for this purpose,' wrote Prof. John Woods of the Department of
ECSE Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Woods recommended 'staying with ATSC 1.0
in the authorized spectral bands and fully expect its use to die off in the
coming five to 10 years,' because 'there is a new TV emerging, one that will be
delivered by the wired Internet and wireless cellular networks.'"
Kind of been my thinking too. I mean, there seems to be a disconnect between
the hype and the standards. Initial descriptions of ATSC 3.0 are all about
"interactive," "on demand," "personalization." But the reality of the standards
is one-way broadcast. IP is available but unessential, because this is a
one-way broadcast standard. MPEG-2 TS is an option (see A/330), same as what's
used now. So aside from a much more flexible physical layer, also well suited
to one-way linear broadcast to mobile devices, and potential to carry UHD which
MVPDs do not support, it's hard for me to see the impacts, for any but OTA
ATSC 3.0: Retrans Parleyed, Scope of Detail Debated
Reply comments focus on how 3.0 should be deployed
June 8, 2017
By Deborah D. McAdams
WASHINGTON-Retransmission consent is emerging as a particular bugaboo in the
Federal Communications Commission's ATSC 3.0 proceeding. The commission's
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allow voluntary deployment of the advanced TV
transmission standard would keep must-carry in place for signals in the current
ATSC 1.0 format, but leave carriage of 3.0 signals up for retrans negotiation.
In a nutshell, "no way," say pay TV operators, claiming they are already
strong-armed into carrying unwanted signals.
"Way," say broadcasters. "It's free market. If you don't like it, pick up your
marbles and go home.
Size matters in the retrans debate. Small pay TV operators are outgunned by the
larger programming providers, both cable- and broadcast-based. Small broadcast
shops, on the other hand-those with just two or three stations in small to
medium markets, have nowhere near the negotiating firepower of a Comcast with
operations covering a third of the U.S. population.
Even Sinclair, which has 173 TV stations and deals for 60 more, says it's
dwarfed by the large carriers.
"The four largest MVPDs together account for more than four out of five MVPD
households. The smallest of these is more than five times as large as Sinclair,
measured by both market capitalization and revenue," Sinclair said in reply
comments, which were due on the docket Thursday.
SINCLAIR vs. ATVA
Sinclair focused on comments by the American Television Alliance, a lobby
formed by a number of pay providers to battle retrans. Members range from the
American Cable Association representing 850 small and mid-sized operations
serving a 7 million households, to Charter Communications, the second largest
U.S. cabler with nearly 25 million subscribers.
The ATVA said it supported the notion of "permissionless innovation" for
broadcasters, but objected to the application of retrans to 3.0, using Tennis
Channel as an example.
"Sinclair did not obtain expanded Tennis Channel coverage from ATVA members by
offering something of value in exchange. Rather, ATVA members report that
Sinclair presented carriage of the Tennis Channel as a fait accompli at the
start of retransmission consent negotiations. ...We have every reason to
believe that broadcasters would negotiate for carriage of their ATSC 3.0
signals in exactly the manner that Sinclair negotiates for carriage of the
To which Sinclair replied that the ATVA "bizarrely alleges that Sinclair has
coerced various MVPDs to carry the Tennis Channel against their will and
without 'offering something of value in exchange.' ...We doubt any of the
management of the MVPDs backing ATVA would report to their shareholders-or
state in their public filings-that they had entered into a significant
commercial agreement without getting anything of value in exchange."
The ATVA further asked the commission to prohibit broadcaster degradation of
the ATSC 1.0 signals now carried by its members. Sinclair said it's the pay
carriers, not the broadcasters, who "consistently demand rights to further
ATVA said 3.0 would impose inordinate costs on multichannel video programming
distributors, including potential royalty fees for HEVC, the standard's video
codec. Sinclair said ATVA's cost estimates were overstated. ATVA also urged the
FCC to "adjust" the 5 percent ancillary fee on revenue-generating secondary
broadcast services. Sinclair said, sure, go ahead: "The commission should take
this opportunity to reduce this requirement substantially and ensure that it
truly does not dissuade innovation."
LG: A/322 IS 'CRITICAL TO NEXT-GEN TV'
The commission's ATSC 3.0 proposal would codify just one of 20-plus individual
standards that comprise the 3.0 suite. That would be A/321, the "bootstrap,"
which provides a doorway for the TV signal to get into the RF waveform. (The
rest of the standard offers a variety of technologies designed to allow
individual broadcasters to tailor their service types. Watch "25 More Things to
Know About ATSC 3.0," a TV Technology webinar presented June 6 for more.)
The NPRM also asked if A/322, the "Physical Layer Protocol," which configures
the various bitrate conduits within a 6 MHz channel, should be ratified. Yes,
says LG Electronics. "A/322 is necessary to ensure a stable RF environment."
On this point, Sinclair's ONE Media split the sheet: "Doing so would limit the
usefulness of the transmission standard and hamper broadcasters' ability to
exploit the standard's potential fully without adding anything not already
protected by the rules currently in force."
"Manifestly untrue," LG replied. "The waveform and coding choices available
with A/322 result in more than 10,000 different emission parameters.... A/322
is the component of ATSC 3.0 that ensures that receivers in televisions and
other consumer reception devices are able to demodulate an ATSC 3.0 signal."
Seattle-based engineering consultant Benjamin Dawson also favors the inclusion
of A/322, "since A/321, by itself, is insufficient to define the waveform and
ATSC: 3.0 IS LOCKED AND LOADED
The Advanced Television Systems Committee, the organization that developed the
3.0 standard, also filed a reply comment on the docket to the effect that both
A/321 and A/322 are ready to roll.
"These standards are finalized, along with a majority of the other standards
and recommended practices that make up ATSC 3.0. Therefore, there is no reason
to delay its adoption."
ATSC also noted that it requires disclosure of any patented technology within
the standard to be made available on "reasonable and non-discriminatory terms."
AT&T STANDS WITH MVPDs
AT&T also weighed in on the docket in the MVPD camp.
"The commission should heed the unified voice of MVPDs in this proceeding and
adopt rules that ensure that the ATSC 3.0 transition will be voluntary for all
stakeholders, not just broadcasters."
AT&T also urged the commission to be adamant about requiring 1.0 simulcasting
as a condition for transmitting 3.0. (See "ATSC 3.0 Local Simulcasting Approach
Debated," May 9, 2017.) ONE Media requested "flexibility for simulcasting" and
the use of vacant channels for launching 3.0 or transmitting 1.0. Low-power
broadcasters outright oppose simulcasting because of the cost involved.
The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition said, "The new regulatory burden of a local
simulcast, would literally make it financially infeasible for a large majority
of stations to convert in a timely manner.... Our Coalition recommends that
Class-A and LPTV stations be allowed to "flash-cut" to a 3.0 service without
any legacy ATSC 1.0 legacy simulcast."
Likewise, Keith Leitch, president of One Ministries, Inc., a Class A and LPTV
station owner in Santa Rosa, Calif., said, "Allowing us to freely move to ATSC
3.0 whenever we like will help ensure our survival."
ATSC 3.0 WEEK AT THE FCC
The commission set aside time later this month specifically to discuss the ATSC
3.0 comments and replies with the various players "given the interest in this
proceeding," the Media Bureau's Public Notice stated. Tuesday, June 27 through
Friday, June 30, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. has been blocked out for 3.0
meetings between "interested parties" and commission staff.
RANDOM SELECTION OF OTHER COMMENTS
"I do not think it a good idea for the government to authorize official use of
airwave spectrum for this purpose," wrote Prof. John Woods of the Department of
ECSE Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Woods recommended "staying with ATSC 1.0
in the authorized spectral bands and fully expect its use to die off in the
coming five to 10 years," because "there is a new TV emerging, one that will be
delivered by the wired Internet and wireless cellular networks."
Lokita Solutions of Radnor, Pa. a 3.0 app developer, countered that
"one-to-many broadband Internet over-the-air will revolutionize the wireless
broadband marketplace for the age of the Internet of Things."
"The FCC should confirm that voluntary adoption of ATSC 3.0 will be the FCC's
permanent policy. - ION Media
"Commissioner O'Rielly's goal of having the initial rules to authorize
voluntary use of the "Next Generation" broadcast standard, with no unnecessary
mandates, in place by October is the correct one. Rapid approval of this NPRM
promises to again revolutionize broadband media as we know it." - Chet Dagit,
founder and CEO of Lokita Solutions, a Radnor, Pa., app maker.
The commission should not permit broadcasters to use vacant channels preserved
for unlicensed operations or require TVWS devices to protect multiple ATSC 3.0
transmissions." - the Wi-Fi Alliance (Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, LG,
T-Mobile, Samsung, Nokia, etc.)
"The commission should expressly prohibit the tying of ATSC 3.0 carriage to
retransmission consent negotiations. The commission should also require local
broadcast stations to disclose their plans to transition to ATSC 3.0 and local
simulcasting during retransmission consent negotiations that are scheduled to
take place at the end of 2017." - WTA-Advocates for Rural Broadband
"MVPDs should continue to enjoy the full benefits of the retransmission consent
agreements for which they bargained, but should not be effectively coerced into
carrying ATSC 3.0 signals when negotiating new retransmission consent
agreements or the renewal of existing ones." - The Independent Telephone &
"Meredith encourages the FCC to adopt ATSC 3.0 as a new, optional additive
standard, while allowing simulcasting for a voluntary transition and
implementing necessary clean-up rule changes to be clear ATSC 3.0 counts as
'television broadcasting' under the FCC's rules." - Meredith Corp.
"NPR urges the commission to ensure the interference protection of NCE radio
stations operating on the reserved portion of the FM band as a result of the
DTV transition to the ATSC 3.0 standard."- NPR
"Although LG agrees that the Physical Layer [A/321] is the only layer of ATSC
3.0 that is relevant for purposes of authorizing broadcasters to provide Next
Gen TV service, LG urges the commission to also incorporate by reference into
its rules A/322, which is the critical component of the Physical Layer for
interference-free delivery of IP signals to both fixed receivers and mobile
devices, including new automotive applications.." - LG Electronics
"AWARN will enable distribution of geo-targeted, rich media alerts
simultaneously to an unlimited number of enabled fixed, mobile, and hand-held
devices, indoors and outdoors, across an entire television broadcast
contour.... AWARN capabilities will far exceed those available to the American
public today." - AWARN Alliance
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