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ATSC Cogitates Over the Future of Broadcast TV

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) announced that it is discussing the future of broadcast TV at its annual meeting, which is being held today in Washington, DC.

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Unedited press release follows:

“Television of Tomorrow” Tops Agenda for Annual Meeting of the Advanced Television Systems Committee

WASHINGTON–Tomorrow’s broadcast television service will include a rich mix of up-to-the-minute data, cached programs, three-dimensional images, and news and traffic information customized for a viewer’s handheld device or filling an entire wall. The map for the future of broadcast TV is the centerpiece of today’s annual meeting of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the standards body responsible for dozens of key standards including the landmark ATSC Digital TV Standard, adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 15 years ago.

“The ATSC is looking ahead as broadcast services evolve,” explained Mark Richer, President of the ATSC. “It’s a process. The next step is something we call ATSC 2.0.”

ATSC 2.0 will be built on the foundation of today’s DTV broadcast standard, itself one of the most widely deployed digital technologies in the world. Work is underway on the elements of ATSC 2.0, which could include:

• Advanced Video Codecs
• Non-Real-Time/File Based Delivery
• Conditional Access
• Digital Rights Management
• Advanced Electronic Service Guides
• Audience Measurement Tools
• Personalization/Targeted advertising
• Interactivity /Internet Connectivity
• 3DTV Transmission

“Even further down the road, there’s the next generation of digital TV transmission. The first report of next generation technologies and issues will be presented during today’s meeting, a foundation to establish a strategic direction for the future,” Richer added.

NBC Universal’s Jim Starzynski, an engineer who has worked tirelessly on TV commercial loudness and other audio issues with digital television, is being honored today by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) as the 2011 recipient of the ATSC’s highest technical honor, the Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award.

“Jim’s leadership in audio loudness activities is vital to the ongoing work of the ATSC and the television industry,” said John Godfrey, Chairman of the ATSC’s Board of Directors. “On behalf of the ATSC board and membership, our congratulations to Jim as this year’s Lechner award honoree.”

Jim led the effort to develop the ATSC A/85 Recommended Practice “Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television.” The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act requires the FCC to mandate use of A/85 for commercial advertisements.

Senator Gordon Smith, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, addressed the meeting this morning.

“I believe the role of ATSC is pivotal for ensuring a vibrant future for television broadcasting. First, I applaud ATSC’s work to bring together the separate industries that play a role in providing television broadcast service,” Smith said. “Though ATSC’s work centers on over-the-air broadcasting, its membership goes well beyond just networks and local stations. Broadcasting can only evolve to more and better services by collaboration among all the stakeholders — television set manufacturers, chip companies, satellite, cable, software developers, professional equipment manufacturers, and of course, broadcasters. And all these stakeholders are members of ATSC. So it’s easy to conclude that this is an important forum for moving broadcast television forward,” Smith said.

Former FCC Chairman Richard Wiley, who chaired the FCC Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service, offered his perspective on the evolution of the core Digital TV standard and the continued refinements that have expanded the capabilities of America’s broadcast TV infrastructure.

More than 180 assembled industry leaders also heard from Dr. Keiichi Kubota, Director General of the Japan’s prestigious NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories, discuss current research and long-term strategy for digital television.

Demonstrations at the event showcase different technical strategies for transmission and reception of 3D TV, with methods that are compatible with the current broadcast system.

Broadcasting executives are also discussing other new standards now in development by ATSC and the ongoing rollout of Mobile DTV, which is now available in more than 30 markets on more than 70 stations across the country as more devices are introduced to consumers.

ATSC annual meeting sponsors include Harris Corporation, IEEE BTS, LG Electronics, Samsung, Ericsson, Thomson, and Dolby.

About the Advanced Television Systems Committee:
ATSC is an international, non-profit organization that develops voluntary standards for digital television. ATSC members represent the TV broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC creates and fosters the implementation of voluntary Standards, Recommended Practices, and Technology Group Reports to advance terrestrial digital television broadcasting and facilitate interoperability with other media.