ATSC 3.0 Testing Goes Live in DMA #124

Lifesaving capabilities of the Next-Gen TV advanced warning functions are among many new benefits the technology makes available to viewers.

The smallest TV market yet to offer next-generation TV service is signing on the air this month. Family-owned News-Press & Gazette Company (NPG) is making the investment to bring ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV signal to Santa Barbara CA, DMA #124. When fully implemented, the new ATSC 3.0 TV signal will provide viewers with a richer, more detailed picture, better sound, a wider range of programming options, interactive features and mobile TV viewing.

"While most people wouldn't expect cutting-edge technology in a relatively small market, the fact is that ATSC 3.0 is expected to be a substantial benefit to urban and rural viewers in markets large and small. NPG is proud to hoist the flag for next-gen TV here in southern California," said NPG co-owner Eric Bradley.

NPG’s broadcast stations in Santa Barbara received recognition and honors from local civic organizations after the stations provided dozens of hours of non-stop commercial-free live news coverage during a significant brush fire and deadly mudslide in late 2017 and early 2018.

“NPG is choosing to launch ATSC 3.0 service in Santa Barbara for an array of reasons, one being the multiple natural disasters that have taken place over the last two years. This new standard will allow us to deliver highly localized news and emergency information to an even wider variety of devices.That means faster alerts when there is potential danger,” said Bradley.

NPG is partnering with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Pearl business alliance of TV broadcasters to launch the new ATSC 3.0 standard in Santa Barbara on KSBB-CD. The groundbreaking test will allow broadcasters in the nation’s mid-to-smaller markets to see exactly how next-gen TV will enhance services for local viewers and for broadcasters.

“ATSC 3.0 devices will merge broadband and broadcast delivery services in a powerful new way that will allow us to provide highly localized news, advertising and a whole array of television services to our communities,” said Mike Meara, President of NPG Broadcasting.

The Pearl business alliance of eight of the largest broadcast companies in America is already on-the-air with its first station in Phoenix. The National Association of Broadcasters has worked to insure the Federal Communications Commission allows transmission of ATSC 3.0 broadcasts on a voluntary basis.

“NAB fully supports NPG’s efforts to launch next-gen TV in the Santa Barbara area,” said Dennis Wharton, Executive Vice President of Communications at NAB. “Local TV broadcasters are working diligently to bring the new standard to market with broadcasts ongoing in Cleveland, Portland, Baltimore, East Lansing, Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas. This new broadcast standard will unlock pro-consumer, innovative services such as higher-quality broadcasts, diverse programming streams, greater interactivity and mobile viewing. Experimental efforts are an important step in this process and NAB will work alongside NPG to ensure the success of this important trial.”

Small Market, Big Impact

NPG operates local broadcast stations in multiple small markets located in California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Missouri. It purchased KSBB-CD and KEYT-TV in 2012 and since the acquisition has invested heavily in its local markets, upgrading local newscasts to high definition and adding journalists and local newscasts to serve all of its communities. 

The transition to the next generation of television technology is viewed as the logical next step in the development of local broadcasting.“ NPG is committed to supporting economic development and community improvement efforts in all of its markets. This is an important way we can continue that mission. Broadcasters play a vital role in the growth, safety and support of the cities where we work and live,” said Bradley.

The new 3.0 broadcast standard will allow viewers to access information, entertainment and data services using applications as they do on smart phones, desktop computers and over-the-top devices such as Roku, Apple and Android TV. Television programming, video on demand and wireless data services will be available without paying for data download charges wherever broadcast transmitters reach today.

“Thanks to help from the NAB, the Pearl TV alliance, GatesAir, Unisoft Corporation, TitanTV and Triveni Digital, NPG’s KSBB-CD ATSC 3.0 transmitter is live on-the-air and is ready to deliver to our community. We look forward to future partnerships with technology companies, content providers and community partners to leverage the strengths of this innovative technology,” said Jim DeChant, Vice President of Technology for NPG Broadcasting.

"We're thrilled to see another deployment of ATSC 3.0, and we'll be giving the KSBB team access to our test processes. The more that we can collaborate the better, as we build support for the voluntary deployment of next generation television. We know that the NPG team is squarely focused on developing new services for viewers and finding ways to take advantage of the new capabilities of this emerging technology. We intend to work hand-in-hand to facilitate a southern California next-gen TV signal," said Anne Schelle, Managing Director of the Pearl TV business organization.

Phoenix Next-Gen Model Market Update

In March, the FCC authorized Univision's KFPH-CD to transmit ATSC 3.0 transmissions as part of the model market "test bed" in Phoenix. At that time, the FCC said that any other stations wanting to utilize the Univision station for transmission of ATSC 3.0 signals must seek permission to do so. The FCC recently granted requests from five commercial and public TV broadcasters for permission to test next-gen TV broadcasts from the transmission facilities of Univision's KFPH-CD.

This week the FCC granted authority for ABC affiliate KNXV, NBC affiliate KPNX, CBS affiliate KPHO, Independent KTVK, and PBS station KAET to utilize the transmission facilities of ATSC 3.0 station KFPH-CD in collaborative testing.

The goals of the Phoenix Model Market project are to test ATSC 3.0 television service and new business models, to develop a framework to facilitate nationwide deployment of ATSC 3.0 service (including best practices), to test consumer devices, and to collect real-time consumer input through surveys and focus groups.

The FCC approval letter notes that "in their applications, the Licensees have committed to continuing to air an ATSC 1.0 signal over their existing channels using their licensed facilities" and that "because of spectrum capacity constraints and in order to accommodate all of the stations that plan to participate in the Phoenix Market Trial, the Stations have requested flexibility to rotate their individual ATSC 3.0 guest signals on and off the ATSC 3.0 host station, KFPH-CD."

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