Interesting perspectives. Although I would have changed the title of the piece
to something like, "without a change to the business model," or perhaps
"without a change to the role of broadcasters," as opposed to "consolidation."
The picture is muddied by the pretend game that OTA broadcasters play over
legacy MVPD media (i.e. that they are the owners of TV network content).
However, even taking that bit of unnecessary confusion into account, it's not
at all clear to me how ATSC 3.0 will do anything to help, in this regard. ATSC
3.0, as it's actually being introduced, is an enhancement only of the old role
of TV broadcasters: to deliver content as linear one-way broadcast, OTA, to
individual markets. This has little if any effect on potential new roles
broadcasters could play, either as content owners, or to provide Internet TV
content distribution services to the public.
As people migrate to using online TV, and plenty of recent articles have
described the phenomenon, seems to me that broadcasters need to get involved.
When TV is distributed the new way, the pretend game played over legacy MVPD
media is not being applied! A real new role is needed. Actual ownership of
content, like a Tribune merger, is one meaningful vector, but just btw, ATSC
3.0 plays almost no role there.
Sinclair's Ripley: Without Consolidation, TV Broadcasting Will 'Cease to Exist'
Cites growing competitive ecosystem as reason for Tribune acquisition
June 21, 2017
By Michael Balderston
WASHINGTON-Sinclair Broadcast Group President and CEO Christopher Ripley
doesn't argue the fact that the broadcaster is one of the largest in the
country, but what he does want people to know is that in this new ecosystem it
is actually one of the smallest competitors. Among the competitors Ripley named
to those in attendance at the Media Institute Luncheon in Washington D.C. on
Tuesday, were the likes of AT&T, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
"When you look at the entire media communications industry, TV broadcast is a
pimple in the entirety of that industry," Ripley said. "We're the largest TV
broadcaster by far, but yet we are so tiny compared to AT&T, Verizon, Comcast,
Charter, Google, Facebook, Amazon. And all those names are people we interface
with. They're either customers or vendors or competitors or would-be
competitors. So that's the ecosystem we play in."
This, Ripley believes, is why he thinks Sinclair's deal with Tribune will
ultimately close, possibly as soon as the end of the calendar year. "We just
sort of scratch our heads from a regulatory basis why there can be any grounds
to prevent such consolidation from happening when if it doesn't happen we'll
simply cease to exist as an industry."
Ripley also praised FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for reviewing certain rules, like
station ownership, that could not only help the Tribune deal be approved, but
help Sinclair compete in the new environment.
"We've been on record saying all the rules, for the most part, that govern this
industry are circa 1960s, 1970s; so antiquated for a bygone era," he told
attendees. "We welcome any sort of relief from that front. If that means some
of the local ownership rules are reformed or go away, that's definitely a
On the programming side of things, Ripley said Sinclair is developing an
"overlay network" that will supplement programming on its affiliate stations.
"We don't envision creating a new network to compete" with existing networks,
Ripley said. Instead, this overlay would "supplement to enhance existing
networks we already carry."
Another element that Sinclair anticipates will impact its ability to compete is
the rollout of the next-generation TV standard ATSC 3.0. Ripley says that
Sinclair is a big champion of the standard-it, along with Univision and
NextStar, is leading a consortium with ATSC 3.0 as a focus point-and sees many
benefits for Sinclair and the industry at large, including the standard's
mobile first aspects; being IP end-to-end; the use of targeted ads; and
increase content data transfer capability.
One of the last potential hurdles for Sinclair, and the broadcast industry as a
whole, will be the transition to ATSC 3.0 from the current ATSC 1.0 standard.
Ripley says that Sinclair will simulcast both the ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 standards
for its stations until a point is reached where all TVs are 3.0-capable and 1.0
can be switched off, though he admits that will need to be a collaborative
effort among broadcasters and will be done on a market-by-market basis.
Still, Ripley believes that this new ecosystem will impact the next-gen TV
standard as well. Using the example of a test Sinclair participated in December
2016 with automated cars, ATSC 3.0's capabilities could range beyond that of
traditional broadcast. "My prediction for ATSC 3.0 is that ultimately it will
not end up being used for what everyone thinks it will be used for today-mobile
video or video to the home," said Ripley. "It will be used for another purpose."
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