Charter Challenges Broadcasters' ATSC 3.0 Value-Added Argument

Charter execs put on something of a full court press at FCC last week to talk down broadcaster's ATSC 3.0 transition.

That is according to a filing at the FCC, showing they met with staffers in the Media Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology, as well as aides to four of the five commissioners, including the chairman.

ATSC 3.0 is the new TV transmission standard that will be delivering higher-definition pictures as well as providing for interactivity, targeted advertising, and other next-gen features.

The FCC has authorized broadcasters to migrate to ATSC 3.0, but cable operators have a bone to pick with how that is happening, particularly with what they say is the current lack of standards and the impact on cable operators.

"[B]broadcasters have yet to adopt standards for the equipment necessary for MVPDs to provide ATSC 3.0 signals to subscribers," Charter told the staffers, a situation that could delay the transition to ATSC 3.0 by years for viewers who get their signals via MVPD rather than over-the-air.

Charter said that the National Association of Broadcasters itself has said that ATSC 3.0 has 40,000 possible configurations.

Broadcasters have talked up the new things they can do with the ATSC 3.0 signal, but Charter signaled that others had been there and were already doing that.

"We also discussed the consumer benefits of the ATSC 3.0 transition, noting that broadcasters have yet to define which among those possible uses of the new standard they are interested in pursuing," Charter said in summarizing the meeting. "We suggested that many of the uses [broadcasters have identified] are already available to consumers over the internet--such as delivery of video to mobile devices, movie downloads, data delivery to cars, and data enhancements to video--which could limit demand for ATSC 3.0 consumer equipment." 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.