FCC takes another step toward adopting new ATSC standard

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The FCC voted Thursday to begin the process to allow broadcasters to deploy the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard.

The commission unanimously adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comments on suggested rules that will let broadcasters begin sending ATSC 3.0 transmissions.

Nicknamed “Next Generation” TV, the protocol enables features including Ultra High Definition video, an advanced emergency alert system and interactive options for viewers.

The FCC vote enables stations that participated in the commission’s broadcast spectrum auction to gear up for ATSC 3.0 while undergoing engineering to “repack” into new channel assignments. America’s Public Television Stations and other broadcast organizations had requested that option in a petition last April.

In a statement Thursday, APTS President Patrick Butler expressed thanks to the FCC. “We believe the new standard holds tremendous promise for enhancing the public service missions of public television — education, public safety and civic leadership — in addition to dramatically improving the viewing experience of our audience and providing critical mobile capability to first responders and the public as a whole,” Butler said.

The FCC is expected to officially adopt the protocol later this year.