FCC Takes Another Step Towards Smoothing ATSC 3.0 Adoption

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially announced the publication of its Third Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning Next Generation TV (ATSC 3.0) standards in the Federal Register. This move solidifies the legal responsibility of simulcast and non-simulcast multicast streams and extends certain requirements for ATSC 3.0 stations.

The Third Report and Order clarified the obligations of licensees who host the programming of others to make content available in both old and new transmission standards. Moreover, the FCC extended the sunset dates until July 17, 2027, for the “substantially similar” requirement, which necessitates that the primary video stream of a station converted to ATSC 3.0 must also be broadcast on a multicast stream of a station still operating in the old standard. Additionally, the requirement for Next Gen TV stations to comply with the A/322 technical standard, which allows proponents to update the standard without FCC approval, was also extended. This extension was granted as there are currently no immediate plans for an update.

The Fourth Further Notice sought public input on whether rules were necessary to ensure the availability of ATSC 3.0 Standard Essential Patents. The FCC has set the deadline for comments and reply comments on this matter as September 15 and October 16, 2023, respectively.

The new rules adopted in the Third Report and Order are set to take effect on August 16, 2023. However, it’s important to note that rules implementing new paperwork requirements, including changes to application forms, will only be enforced after obtaining approval from the Office of Management and Budget, as mandated by the Paperwork Reduction Act for all agency-imposed paperwork changes.

The recent developments from the FCC signal the continued progress and evolution of ATSC 3.0 standards, impacting various stakeholders in the broadcasting industry. The extension of certain requirements and the ongoing consideration of Standard Essential Patents’ availability are crucial steps in ensuring a smooth transition to Next Generation TV. Stakeholders should be vigilant in adhering to the new rules and submitting their comments on the Fourth Further Notice to shape the future of ATSC 3.0 technology.