Public TV Embraces Next Gen Broadcast Standard


Public television is ready to embrace the ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standard. In fact, it is already experimenting with new service and business opportunities the new standard makes possible, the head of America’s Public Television Stations says.

In a keynote address to the ATSC conference, APTS President/CEO Patrick Butler said public television stations see advances in distance learning, emergency communications and civic leadership among the features of ATSC 3.0.

Butler cited pilot programs already underway to exploit the standard’s enhancements in interactivity, mobility and spectral efficiency:

WKAR-TV, licensed to Michigan State University, is establishing an experimental facility to test ATSC 3.0 applications in distance learning and health, remote control irrigation of farms, local news, emergency preparedness and connected vehicles.

Arizona PBS, licensed to Arizona State University, is among the stations participating in the Phoenix Model Market Project to demonstrate an effective local transition from the current ATSC 1.0 standard to ATSC 3.0, and to show how the new standard’s interactivity will enhance public television’s education and public safety missions.

UNC-TV, licensed to the University of North Carolina, on May 17 broadcast the first successful emergency announcement from a 911 dispatch center using ATSC 3.0 technology.

Butler pointed to additional public safety programs being conducted by public television stations in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington, D.C. — all of which will provide richer content, more mobility and faster response, thanks to ATSC 3.0.

He said the greater channel capacity enabled by the new standard will expand public television’s civic leadership mission as the “C-SPAN” of State governments, the chronicler of life in America’s hometowns and the “democracy channel” equipping viewers “to perform the sacred duty of citizenship in the world’s most important democracy.”

Butler said Next Gen’s spectral efficiency will also make possible opportunities for new revenue “from the use of whatever spectrum we may not need for broadcast and public service purposes.”

APTS, he said, “is prepared to serve as the agent of our 170 licensees and as the aggregator of spectrum for purposes that fit our values and fortify our financial security.”