The FCC Thursday voted unanimously to allow broadcasters to voluntarily adopt new ATSC 3.0 standards for next-generation TV services.
“Imagine a world in which TV broadcasts of your favorite show or new programs were delivered in Ultra High Definition and immersive audio. Imagine a world in which programming was hyperlocalized and broadcasters could delivery niche content to specific geographic areas within a station's signal areas. Imagine a world that offered Americans with disabilities far better accessibility options for experiencing broadcast television. Imagine a world in which every consumer smartphone could serve as an over-the-air programming device,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement.
The FCC’s approval comes after earlier this month the agency unveiled an NPRM for the still-in-development broadcast TV standards that will enable Ultra High Definition (UHD) picture and immersive audio, more localized programming content, an advanced emergency alert system (EAS), better accessibility options and interactive services.
As TV Technology pointed out, Thursday's vote was limited to ATSC 3.0’s system discovery and signaling layer and physical layer protocol segments of the new standards, which are expected to be finalized by April 2017.
The National Association of Broadcasters was quick to applaud the FCC and Pai for moving ahead with the standards.
“NAB commends the FCC and Chairman Pai for taking the first step towards approving the voluntary adoption of Next Gen TV. This innovative broadcast transmission standard offers free and local TV viewers the promise of higher-quality pictures and sound, mobile viewership, datacasting and lifesaving interactive emergency information. With support from television manufacturers, public TV stations and the public safety community, NAB looks forward to Next Gen TV’s giant leap into broadcasting’s bright future,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications for the NAB, in a statement.