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How to Create Positive Work Cultures in the Low Power Television Industry

Work culture has taken its biggest hit in decades. With more employees dispersed than ever, workplaces traditionally in-person see their talent drawn to greener pastures. There’s a risk of toxic “bubbles” building within companies that don’t appear to offer all their people the same flexibility consistently and fairly.
According to the Leaders I work with, workplaces will continue to become more diverse, flexible, dispersed, and challenging. As a result, leaders will play a more vital role in creating positive and magnetic work cultures for their teams. Leaders can prevent toxic cultures from emerging and better foster and sustain the positive work connections that help retain key talent.

Understanding the New Work Environment
The Low Power Television (LPTV) industry, like many others, has had to adapt rapidly to changing work environments. Traditional, in-person operations have shifted to remote or hybrid models. This shift presents unique challenges and opportunities for creating a positive work culture. Here are key strategies to help you build a thriving work environment in this new landscape.

1. Promote Open Communication
Encouraging open and honest communication is crucial in today’s work environment. Leaders need to:

  • Regular Check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins and team meetings to keep everyone aligned and connected. Use video calls to maintain a personal touch.
  • Feedback Channels: Create channels where employees feel safe to express their concerns, ideas, and feedback.
  • Transparency: Be transparent about company goals, changes, and expectations to build trust and ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Ensure Fairness and Flexibility
Fairness in work policies and flexibility in operations are critical in preventing the formation of toxic “bubbles.” To achieve this:

  • Consistent Policies: Ensure that all employees have access to the same benefits and opportunities, regardless of their work location.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible work hours and locations to accommodate different lifestyles and needs. This flexibility can help attract and retain top talent who value work-life balance.

3. Encourage Collaboration and Connection
Maintaining a sense of connection and collaboration is vital, especially in a dispersed workforce. Here’s how to do it:

  • Team-building Activities: Organize virtual or in-person team-building activities to strengthen relationships and foster a sense of community.
  • Collaborative Tools: Invest in collaborative tools and technologies that make it easier for team members to work together, share ideas, and stay connected.

4. Recognize and Reward Contributions
Recognizing and rewarding your team’s contributions can significantly impact their motivation and engagement. Consider the following:

  • Public Recognition: Celebrate achievements publicly, whether through team meetings, company newsletters, or social media shout-outs.
  • Reward Systems: Implement reward systems that acknowledge hard work and innovative ideas. This could be in the form of bonuses, extra time off, or professional development opportunities.

5. Invest in Professional Development
Supporting your team’s professional growth not only enhances their skills but also demonstrates your commitment to their long-term success. Here’s how:

  • Training Programs: Offer regular training programs to help employees develop new skills and stay updated with industry trends.
  • Career Pathing: Provide clear career paths and opportunities for advancement within the organization. This helps employees see a future with your company and remain engaged.

Creating a positive work culture in the Low Power Television industry requires intentional efforts from leaders. By promoting open communication, ensuring fairness and flexibility, encouraging collaboration, recognizing contributions, and investing in professional development, you can build a work environment that not only attracts but also retains top talent. In these challenging times, a positive and supportive work culture is more critical than ever to the success and longevity of your organization.

Let me know!
What strategies have you found effective in creating a positive work culture? Share your experiences and tips at [email protected]! Let’s work together to build a thriving LPTV industry.

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FCC Releases Proposed Changes to Rules for Low Power Television Stations

On May 16, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that, if adopted, would seek comment on revisions to the Commission’s rules relating to the Low Power Television (LPTV) service, including Class A television, LPTV, and TV translator stations. The NPRM is set to be voted on at the Commission’s June 6, 2024 Open Meeting.
Executive Summary
By way of an overview, the NPRM would generally:

  • Seek comment on whether to require top-four network-affiliated LPTV stations to comply with the same online public file (OPIF) requirements applicable to full power and Class A television stations, or alternatively, whether OPIF requirements should be applied to LPTV stations that are among the top-four TV stations in each market based on the Nielsen ratings.
  • Propose to adopt procedures for LPTV stations to establish an OPIF and propose to make public inspection and political broadcasting rules applicable to all LPTV stations.
  • Propose technical and operational amendments to the Commission’s rules, including whether to: (1) amend the method for calculating the maximum distance that a displaced or channel sharing station may move under the FCC’s displacement rule; (2) clarify the maximum distance that Class A and LPTV/TV translator stations may move under the Commission’s minor modification rule; (3) require that Class A and LPTV/TV translator stations specify a community of license within their station’s contour; (4) adopt minimum operating and defined minimum video program requirements for LPTV stations; (5) require stations in the LPTV service to seek authority to change designation and maintain a call sign consistent with their class of service; (6) specify requirements pertaining to emissions masks; (7) prohibit LPTV/TV translator station operations above TV channel 36; and (8) clarify the circumstances in which LPTV/TV translators stations are eligible for displacement.

We have provided a more detailed summary of the NPRM below.
Proposals & Questions Raised
OPIF Requirements
Section 73.3526 of the Commission’s rules requires that “[e]very permittee or licensee of an AM, FM, TV, or Class A TV station in the commercial broadcast services” maintain a public inspection file with material identified in the rule. (¶ 11). LPTV stations are currently only required to make certain records, including political file materials, available to the public and provide certain records to the Commission upon request. (¶ 13) If adopted, however, the NPRM would seek comment on whether:

  • The FCC should extend the same OPIF requirements applicable to full power and class A television stations to top-four network affiliated LPTV stations and whether OPIF requirements should be extended to LPTV stations that are affiliated with TV networks other than the top-four (¶¶ 15-19);
  • The Commission should include LPTV stations affiliated with other national TV networks in the requirement to maintain an OPIF or whether the agency should instead apply the OPIF requirement to LPTV stations that are among the top-four TV stations in each market based on Nielsen ratings (¶¶ 15, 20);
  • There are any additional ways of differentiating among LPTV stations for purposes of imposing OPIF requirements (¶ 15); and
  • These proposals appropriately accommodate small entities. (¶ 27).

The NPRM would also propose—if the Commission were to require that certain LPTV stations comply with the OPIF requirements in Section 73.3526—issuing a Public Notice with an initial/draft list of those LPTV stations that fall within the affected group based on generally accepted industry data. (¶27). The Media Bureau would issue a subsequent Public Notice that includes a final list of LPTV stations subject to the OPIF requirement in accordance with the Commission’s rules and set a deadline by which each LPTV station must begin to maintain the OPIF on the Commission’s OPIF platform. (¶ 28).
Notification Requirements
The NPRM would propose to require that LPTV stations notify the Commission within 10 days of a change in their affiliation or ranking that occurs after the Media Bureau issues a final list of LPTV stations subject to the OPIF requirement. The LPTV station would be required to include the date the station’s affiliation or ranking changed, along with the details of the station’s change in circumstances, in the notice. (¶ 28). The NPRM seeks comment on various aspects of this notification requirement, including:

  • How this procedure should change if the Commission were to require stations to maintain an OPIF in perpetuity once they are required to do so. (¶ 28).
  • Whether the Commission should adopt a waiting period before imposing an OPIF requirement on a station that becomes a top-four ranked station or drops out of the top-four to ensure that the change in the market ranking is not short lived. The Commission would also request comment on the length of the waiting period. (¶ 29).

Proposed Recordkeeping and Political Broadcasting Obligations Applicable to All LPTV Stations
LPTV stations are currently required to “maintain adequate station records, including the current instrument of authorization, official correspondence with the FCC, contracts, permission for rebroadcasts, and other pertinent documents.” Section 74.78(b) of the Commission’s rules also requires LPTV stations to retain certain information about tower lighting. (¶ 30). The Commission proposes the following changes to these requirements:

  • Specifying where LPTV stations must retain records not included in its OPIF. The Commission’s proposed revisions would also specify where records can be accessed by the public. (¶ 30).
  • Revising the inspection requirement to clarify that the rule applies to both translators and LPTV stations. (¶ 31).
  • Updating the list of political programming rules applicable to LPTV stations to align with existing and longstanding statutory requirements in Sections 312 and 315 of the Communications Act. To this end, the NPRM would seek comment on whether it should specify that LPTV stations are subject to Sections 73.1941 through 73.1944 of the Commission’s rules in addition to Section 73.1940. (¶ 32).

The NPRM would seek comment on whether there is any reason to exempt LPTV stations not subject to an OPIF requirement from a public inspection requirement. (¶ 31). Additionally, the NPRM would request comment on whether there are reasons translators should be subject to a public inspection requirement and not LPTV stations. (¶ 31).
Proposed Changes to Section 73.3526
The Commission proposes to correct cross references and other inaccuracies, clarify existing requirements, establish filing frequency for Class A stations to certify they have met their ongoing flexibility requirements, and require Class A and LPTV stations to disclose time brokerage agreements and joint service agreements. (¶ 33).
Revisions to Rules Concerning Relocation of Facilities
The NPRM would seek comment on amending the displacement and channel sharing rules to eliminate the reference to a station’s community of license (COL) and incorporate the language of the minor change rule that measures distance from the reference and coordinates of the “[e]xisting station’s antenna location.” (¶ 39) The NPRM would also request comment on clarifying the distance that Class A and LPTV/TV translator stations are allowed to move in a single minor modification application or a displacement application, proposing to remove the imprecise miles to kilometers conversion and instead solely state that facility relocations may be no greater than 48.3 kilometers. (¶ 40)
The NPRM would also propose to establish mandatory COL designations and coverage requirements and seek comment on several aspects of these requirements, such as whether Class A and LPTV/TV translator stations should be required to designate a COL whose boundary at least partially overlaps with the station’s “protected service contour.” (¶ 42). The NPRM would also seek comment on whether stations should be required to serve their COL for a minimum period before designating it as the station’s COL (¶ 43).
Minimum Operating Hours for LPTV Stations and Minimum Programming Requirements
In the NPRM, the Commission would propose adopting minimum operating hours for LPTV stations and seek comment on whether LPTV/TV translator stations should be required to certify regarding their minimum operating hours on certain applications. (¶ 45). Specifically, the NPRM would propose that all LPTV stations be required to operate no less than 14 hours per calendar week and seek comment on whether there are alternatives to this benchmark that will satisfy the goal of “ensur[ing] that stations have a clear awareness of their public interest obligations to the viewers they have been licensed to serve, and prevent[ing] warehousing and underutilization of spectrum.”( ¶ 46). Finally, the NPRM would propose to require all LPTV/TV translator licensees to certify in any application for minor or major modification of a licensed facility and in their license renewal applications whether the station has complied with its minimum operating requirement over the course of the current license term. (¶ 50).
If adopted, the NPRM would also clarify that, for LPTV/TV translator stations, visual transmissions of test patterns, slides, or still pictures accompanied by unrelated aural transmissions may not be counted for purposes of complying with any minimum operating requirement. (¶ 51).
Class A, LPTV, and TV Translator Station Designations and Call Signs
The NPRM would propose the following revisions concerning service classification:

  • Requiring that stations in the LPTV service that seek to change their designation from LPTV to TV translator, and vice versa, be required to seek Commission authority by way of a license modification application to make such a change, and allowing stations in the LPTV service to change their station designation not more than once every 12 months (¶ 52);
  • Requiring that all stations with the LPTV designation, regardless of how the station is operated, comply with EAS rules (¶ 55);
  • Clarifying that a station formally designated in the Commission’s database as a TV translator is not required to comply with the Commission’s Part 11 requirements (¶ 55);
  • Automatically modifying the four-letter LPTV call sign when a station converts from LPTV to TV translator status so as to be consistent with the Commission’s TV translator call sign rule (¶ 56);
  • Requiring that all Class A and LPTV stations have a four-letter call sign with the suffix “LD” for LPTV stations and “CD” for Class A stations. Any station that modifies its status from a TV translator to LPTV after the effective date of the proposed rule would be required to submit a request for a new four-letter call sign (¶ 57);
  • Automatically changing the call sign of a Class A station that reverts to LPTV from “-CD” to “-LD” to reflect its LPTV status (¶ 57);
  • Providing all Class A and LPTV stations 90 days from the NPRM’s effective date to designate a four-letter call sign with the correct suffix. During this period, the Commission would waive the fee associated with an initial call sign request by a station to modify its call sign in order to come into compliance with the proposed rule. (¶ 57)

Alternatively, the NPRM would seek comment on whether the Commission should grandfather existing LPTV and Class A call signs that are not in compliance with the proposed new rule. (¶ 58).
Channel 14 Emission Masks
To further reduce the potential for interference to Land Mobile Radio (LMR) facilities in the 460-470 MHz band, the NPRM would propose that new and modified channel 14 Class A and LPTV/TV translator stations (Channel 14 LPTV Station) be required to use a “full service” or “stringent” emission mask; a simple emission mask would be prohibited. (¶ 59). Under this proposal, a currently-licensed Channel 14 LPTV Station would not be required to make a change to its existing licensed facility and would only be required to implement filtering with a superior emission mask when proposing modifications to its facility that would change the station’s current service contour or to address interference caused to an LMR facility. (¶ 59).
The NPRM would also propose prohibiting any LPTV/TV translator stations from operating above channel 36. (¶ 63)
Additional Class A, LPTV, and TV Translator Rule Clarifications
The NPRM would also propose changes to the Commission’s rules to further clarify certain Class A and LPTV/TV translator technical rules and policies. This includes the following:

  • Requiring that all transmitters in a Class A or LPTV/TV translator station Distributed Transmission System facility utilize the same emission mask. To this end, the Commission would tentatively conclude that all three emission masks found in the agency’s rules are permissible. (¶ 65).
  • Applying the same requirements to LPTV/TV translator stations as full-power and Class A TV stations when entering into an interference agreement. (¶ 66). This includes entering into a signed written agreement that is submitted with the application and making clear that agreements may include the exchange of money or other consideration between entities. (¶ 67).
  • Allowing stations operating pursuant to interference agreements, or that are unilaterally accepting interference from another station, to maintain those agreed upon interference amounts when modifying a facility so long as applications involving stations with agreements remain compliant with those agreements. (¶ 66). A station seeking to modify its facility would be required to demonstrate that no additional interference beyond what was previously caused or accepted will occur as a result of the proposed modification. (¶ 68). Under this proposal, Media Bureau staff may request that a new interference agreement be entered into or that the modification application be amended to resolve any interference above the permitted interference threshold. (¶ 68, n. 244).
  • Codifying that a one square kilometer grid resolution should be the maximum permitted in evaluating the interference to Class A and LPTV/TV translator facilities, which was a policy announced in an earlier LPTV DTV Order. The Commission noted that commenters that believe that a different maximum grid resolution should be utilized should explain why it will provide a better basis for evaluating interference involving LPTV/TV translator stations. (¶ 69).

These additional proposed revisions would also include updates to the Commission’s displacement rules aimed at minimizing service disruptions. Specifically, if adopted, the NPRM would propose:

  • Eliminating the 30-day public notice period for displacement applications found in Section 74.787(a)(4) of the Commission’s rules. (¶ 70).
  • Amending the Commission’s rules to specify that displacement applications based on amendments to the Table of TV Allotments cannot be filed until the Report and Order granting the channel substitution and amending the Table of TV Allotments is effective. Under this proposal, displacement applications that are filed before the Report and Order granting the channel substitution and amending the Table of TV Allotments is effective will be dismissed without prejudice. (¶ 72).
  • Enumerating in the displacement rule the precise circumstances that qualify LPTV/TV translator stations to seek a displacement channel. The current displacement rule states, in part, that an LPTV/TV translator station “which is causing or receiving interference or is predicted to cause or receive interference to or from an authorized TV broadcast station or allotment or other protected station or service, may at any time file a displacement relief application for change in channel . . . .” (¶ 73) (emphasis added). With this in mind, the NPRM would propose to clarify that:
  • “[C]ausing or receiving interference” refers to actual interference received by a TV broadcast station (i.e., a full power television station) from an LPTV or TV translator station. In order for an LPTV/TV translator station to qualify for displacement relief based on actual interference caused to a TV broadcast station, there must be at least: (1) a single report of actual interference received by a TV broadcast station within its community of license, or (2) multiple reports of actual interference to a TV broadcast station within its protected contour. The NPRM would seek comment on how many reports of actual interference should be required in each instance and what information should be provided to validate such claims. (¶ 74).
  • With respect to “predicted” interference “caused” to a TV broadcast station, the predicted interference would have to exceed the 0.5% de minimis interference threshold specified in Section 74.793(e) of the Commission’s rules to qualify the station to file a displacement application. With respect to predicted interference “received” from a TV broadcast station, the predicted interference would have to exceed the 2% interference threshold specified in Section 74.793(h) of the Commission’s rules to qualify the station to file a displacement application. (¶ 75).
  • “[O]ther protected station or service” includes two specific situations beyond interference to/from an authorized TV broadcast station that would qualify an LPTV/TV translator station to seek a displacement channel: (1) interference to LMR facilities; and (2) interference to/from protected television facilities in Canada and Mexico. (¶ 76).
  • Interference caused to a TV translator input channel is a basis for displacement. (¶ 77).

Finally, the NPRM would propose to make the Commission’s part 73 “program test authority” rule applicable to LPTV/TV translator stations, make a series of ministerial corrections to Parts 73 and 74 of the Commission’s rules, and seek comment on the benefits and costs associated with the NPRM’s proposals. (¶¶ 79-84).
If the draft NPRM is adopted, comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and reply commence will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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Broadcast Standard Association ATSC Staging Annual Broadcast Conference in Washington, D.C. in Mid-June

ATSC, the Broadcast Standards Association, today released additional details about its annual NextGen Broadcast Conference and Member Meeting at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. in mid-June.  The program will focus on new opportunities for broadcasting utilizing ATSC 3.0, the next-generation broadcast standard that is now available to viewers in 75 markets across the U.S., 80% of viewers in South Korea, and soon 66% in Jamaica.

“ATSC 3.0 is a robust and flexible wireless system built on an Internet Protocol backbone, ideal for new applications for international business, emergency information, mobility, and remarkable enhancements for traditional TV broadcasting.  Each year, we welcome the broadcast industry to get together and learn about new avenues for next-generation broadcasting, and to hear updates on the deployment of ATSC 3.0 across the world.  We look forward to robust conversations about the latest opportunities to apply flexible ATSC 3.0 broadcasts with local sports, interactive functions, automotive applications and more,” said Madeleine Noland, President of ATSC.

Announced sessions for the Conference include:

  • Playing the Game: NEXTGEN TV Sports
  • Interactive Apps Unleashed
  • Inspiring Consumers: The Latest Research on NEXTGEN TV
  • Datacasting: Leveraging the ATSC 3.0 IP Backbone to Diversify Revenue Streams
  • Are We There Yet? NextGen Automotive TV
  • Emergency Messaging Update
  • NEXTGEN TV Consumer Devices Update

The two-day ATSC conference looking at next-generation broadcast options and devices runs Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14, and is open to all.  ATSC Members can participate in all three days of events, including both the ATSC Annual Members Meeting and the vibrant two-day conference. program.  The capstone of the event will be the presentation of the annual Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award and the Mark Richer Medal for industry leadership, the organization’s highest honors, on June 14.

Registration for the event is open on ATSC.org, at:  https://www.atsc.org/events/nextgen-broadcast-conference/

As the NEXTGEN TV rollout in the United States continues apace, ATSC 3.0 is also being planned for additional markets around the world, with Trinidad & Tobago launching services next year, key ATSC 3.0 technologies selected for Brazil’s TV 3.0 initiative also launching in 2025, direct-to-mobile standards exploration in India, and testing underway now in Mexico and Canada.

ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. Conference attendees are typically mid-to-senior level executives within the ATSC 3.0 and NEXTGEN TV ecosystem. There will be numerous demonstrations and some two dozen exhibitors showcasing the latest in ATSC 3.0 technologies, products and services.

About ATSC:  ATSC, the Broadcast Standards Association, is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. Serving as an essential force in the broadcasting industry, ATSC guides the seamless integration of broadcast and telecom standards to drive the industry forward. Currently, the ATSC 3.0 Standard is providing the best possible solution for expanding the potential of the broadcast spectrum beyond its traditional application to meet changing needs. From conventional television to innovative digital data services, ATSC has one clear goal: to empower the broadcasting ecosystem like never before. For more information, visit www.atsc.org.

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Stepping on the Gas for NextGen Broadcast Deployment

It has been 11 years since the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) called for proposals to upgrade the current digital terrestrial transmission system (ATSC 1.0) to a significantly improved level – ATSC 3.0 (3/26/13).  Just three years later, the combined broadcast and consumer equipment industries petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new rules approving the game-changing standard (4/13/16).  The FCC issued proposed rules 10 months after that (2/2/17) with final rules effective in just over a year (3/2/18). Broadcasters then stepped up to deploy this innovative new service that now reaches over 75% of the country’s population while CE manufacturers have now provided well over 10 million TV sets enabled to receive the new tech.

I offer this historical timeline to reflect the tremendous progress of deploying a transformative platform in less than a dozen years. But so much still needs to be done to unlock the full potential of ATSC 3.0 for consumers as well as broadcasters themselves.  Our company has been deep in the weeds of all aspects of the process from technical standard refinement to receiver designs and applications, station deployment, core network planning, international adoption, regulatory licensing, and developing business use cases.  We still have much work to do.  The full potential of the designs imagined 11 years ago is constrained by our inability to access  pent up ATSC 3.0 capacity now dedicated to the exact same thing available to viewers using the current inferior standard, which may have been state-of-the-art for its time but has been dramatically eclipsed by newer tech.

Viewers, as well as broadcasters, need more. And we need it now.

To the Commission’s credit, it has endorsed a process that brings all players to the table for a plan to move forward.  The Future of TV Initiative has the right focus from a regulatory perspective, but in the end, the process needs a jolt from all the players involved to unleash the potential of this revolutionary new technology.  We need a sense of urgency.

What does that jolt look like?  Four shocks:

  • Accelerated NextGen TV deployment – a 1.0 sunset,
  • Flooding the market with affordable/ubiquitous dongles,
  • Offering better quality programming, and
  • Demonstrating that money-making datacasting is here now.

Accelerated NextGen TV deployment.  CTA predicts there will be 35M TV sets sold in 2028 plus 86M already sold by then.  That’s over 120M sets in use.  That’s a good starting point. But there is a symbiotic relationship between receivers and transmission. No manufacturers will pay to include 3.0 tech in devices unless there is something to receive and visa versa.  Broadcasters need to commit to deploying the 3.0 standard and CE manufacturers need to march in sync to include the tech in their devices.

Q: How do we kick start that?

A: With a clear and unmistakable signal that there will be an end to ATSC 1.0 broadcasts.

Inertia has its own rules.  The one constant is that nothing will change if there is no consequence.  A clear “Sunset” date sends the message that there is an end in sight to the current inefficient 1.0 system. That will do much to encourage integration of 3.0 capability in multiple devices.  Yes, there will need to be a bridge to help all consumers over the gap from 1.0 to 3.0 devices.  That will likely involve 1.0 “Nightlight” service for a period of time and other potential assistance, but the signal lamp needs to be hung.  And soon.

Affordable/Ubiquitous Dongles.  The FCC’s key concern driving its complicated deployment regime is a requirement that broadcasters simulcast their content using the old transmission standard since many television sets cannot receive the more advanced NextGen Broadcast signal. One mechanism to help mitigate the problem of legacy sets is the availability of accessory devices that can receive the new signals.  Unlike the converter boxes subsidized by the government coupons in 2009, converters can now be miniaturized to fit in much smaller devices.  An aggressive plan to get more of these devices out in the market is essential and, in conjunction with the clear Sunset date, will be critical to boost production.  This is the key to meeting the FCC’s primary reason for the simulcast requirement.

CE manufacturers are doing their part.  The genius of profit-motivating opportunity has spurred development of multiple set top boxes, gateways and dongles.  Efficient patent pools have been formed to provide reasonable rates and “one-stop shopping” for the essential intellectual property needed for the devices and there are incentive discounts that encourage an easier path to marketing these products.  Indeed, there are $40 converters on the market today.

Flooding the market with these converter devices is the single most important activity that will meet the government’s concerns about protecting viewers.  No one will be forced to abandon their 1.0 sets to watch over-the-air delivered programming if they have readily available and affordable devices that upgrade their existing devices to receive the new services.  It is a necessary activity that will support the setting of the critical Sunset date.

The process can certainly be augmented with government or industry incentives and funding including subsidies, tax breaks or grants aimed at lowering the cost of production.  Combined with retailer partnerships to promote and distribute these devices, this support will increase accessibility and reach a wider audience.  Offering incentives to retailers, such as discounts or marketing assistance, can encourage them to prioritize the sale of dongles and educate consumers about their benefits.

Better Quality Programming. Consumers need a reason to buy new products.  There is no better reason than to entice them with stunning visuals and enhanced audio for the content they watch.  Transmissions using High Dynamic Range (HDR) video provide exceptionally vibrant contrast and colors with spectacular brightness and depth.  The video images are breath-taking and remarkably closer to what the human eye experiences in real life.  It brings the over-the-air viewing experience on par with the highest quality streaming services. HDR content is already being offered by major streaming platforms as it provides more realism and depth for a cinematic viewing experience. When it comes to live events, especially sports, HDR really brings the action to life with vibrant contrasts between the field, the players, fans, and the outdoor scenery. Although HDR is often included with newer 4K Ultra High-Definition content, HDR included with full high-definition content also provides similar outstanding improvement in visual quality.

Adopting HDR can give broadcast networks a competitive edge in the increasingly crowded media landscape and keep pace with streaming alternatives. The good news is that virtually all network programming can be broadcast today in native HDR.  The more programming broadcast this way, the more consumers will flock to watch it.

It should be an absolute priority for all program producers.

Datacasting Monetization.  Datacasting isn’t just a buzzword – it’s the future. If broadcasters are to continue to serve the public with free over-the-air signals, including news, sports and other highly desirable programming, broadcasters must adapt as viewers migrate away from traditional linear television.

Enter datacasting.  This has been a part of the “digital promise” since broadcasters converted from analog transmissions and has been anticipated by regulators and broadcasters alike for many years.  Developments to-date justify analysts’ predictions that, in the next decade, broadcasters will develop a third revenue stream as robust as advertising and retransmission fees for the content we produce or license – which is essential to ensuring broadcasters can continue to serve their viewers and the public interest.

Connecting multiple NextGen-transmitting stations with potential customers in need of diverse datacasting capacity is a critical new but economically rewarding challenge.  Never before have we had the ability to connect a network of television stations as a distribution platform. Stations existed as islands – separate, independently addressable, disparate entities. We now have the ability to link them.  That end-to-end infrastructure now exists. Cutting-edge broadcasters are now completing the design, build, and operation of an innovative and interconnected broadcast platform intended to provide a wireless broadcast backbone for IP data delivery across the country.

So what are these first datacasting use cases?

  • Content Distribution Offload. Well over 80% of all consumer Internet traffic today is for video with more than 1.1 million minutes of video streamed or downloaded every second.  Those are one-to-one events.  In other words, streaming a 1 GB movie to 50 million people would consume 50 million GB of spectrum capacity.  That’s extraordinarily inefficient when compared to the one-to-infinite broadcast architecture that could cover all 210 Nielsen markets with a collective 210 GB.  For the math aficionado reader, that’s using a mere 0.00042% of the broadband streaming model.  If Netflix or some other streaming service wants to complement its data offloading options – viewing NextGen Broadcast as a content delivery network extension – renting broadcast bits to provide the exact same service at a fraction of the expense seems to be a worthwhile pursuit.
  • In-vehicle video entertainment enhanced and telematics. The NextGen Broadcast system is uniquely designed to synergize OTA broadcast and broadband 5G services. Nowhere will this be more immediately beneficial than in automobile servicing.    Connected vehicles are rolling computers that need servicing.  Using NextGen Broadcast capabilities, providers of data services to vehicles will be able to deliver software updates simultaneously to an infinite number of Internet of Things devices in their smart vehicles to upgrade software for new functionality, infotainment, bug fixes, and navigation.  Safety updates can be delivered within hours, not days. Services can be provided to hundreds of thousands of devices instantly and simultaneously with no network slowdowns since broadcast architecture is not subject to cell phone network bottlenecks. Live updating of 3D mapping, for example, requires huge amounts of data so that autonomous driving vehicles don’t bump into things.  You can’t do that with WiFi.  You can’t do that via a spotty cell phone system.  You can do that through a robust, one-to-many broadcast system.  Broadcasters with complete access to their NextGen IP capacity will be perfectly positioned to provide those needed services.
  • Position/Navigation/Timing and Advanced Emergency Alerting. The broadcasting industry is in a powerfully unique position to provide critical infrastructure support to augment national security.  NextGen Broadcasting can provide Position, Navigation, and Timing datacasting services covering the entire country as an alternative to any potential compromise of the satellite-delivered GPS system.  This is a fundamental capability designed into the NextGen Broadcast standard.  Similarly, Advanced Emergency Alerting capabilities are an integral part of the ATSC 3.0 standard permitting broadcasters to enhance emergency content with detailed, rich video and graphics tied into newsrooms that will significantly supplement the simple crawl warnings sent to receive devices today.  The Public Interest benefits of these datacasting applications cannot be overstated.
  • Augmented GPS. Aside from the critical national security enhancement features enabled by the Broadcast Positioning System currently under evaluation by the government, broadcasters can be at the center of the fast-growing commercial Positioning, Navigation, and Timing market. Using a trivial amount of a station’s NextGen digital capacity, these enhanced GPS services can provide vast improvements to location accuracy for an unlimited number of users, vehicles, and devices – all at a small fraction of the cost of existing services.  These new service offerings will support dozens of use cases, including Internet of Things applications, autonomous vehicle tracking, precise drone delivery, and emergency response.
  • Interactive Music Channels. Using just a fraction of their spectrum capacity, a NextGen Broadcaster could offer 150 audio channels.  In addition, NextGen Broadcast capacity can be used to host “virtual” music channels.  Pie in the sky?  The global music streaming company, ROXi, demonstrated at CES this year America’s first ever fully interactive free music channels to U.S. TVs including music, karaoke and music games.  It is a key example of non-video datacasting use case that provides revenue to stations – NOW.

Make no mistake:  broadcasters are at an existential pivot point in time where the fundamental basis of our industry is at stake. We must adapt to an increasingly competitive advertising market, an increasingly competitive viewership market, and the decline of traditional linear television. Fortunately, we’ve met the technological challenge to keep our businesses relevant – NextGen Broadcasting provides the essential tools and opens up new ways for broadcasters to serve their viewers as well as new revenue streams that capitalize on new uses for our spectrum.  Broadcasters are about to reap the benefits of datacasting.  As others understand this potential, the process of jump-starting NextGen Broadcast deployment will receive a much-needed spark.

Combining these four jolts of acceleration will light the path to fully realizing the NextGen Broadcast promise.

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Gray Television Rolling Out Advanced Features With NextGenTV

LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)

With Derby Week kicking off in Louisville, Kentucky, Gray Television, Inc. (NYSE: GTN) (“Gray”) is proud to announce several key initiatives to advance the NEXTGEN TV transition and bring more of the benefits of this new standard to viewers in Gray’s local communities. Among many other consumer benefits, NEXTGEN allows broadcasters to deliver superior picture quality and immersive sound, and Gray is increasing its efforts to roll out these features for viewers.

Earlier this month, Gray’s NBC affiliate WAVE(TV) in Louisville, Kentucky, became the first affiliate of a major network to broadcast all of its programming using High Dynamic Range (HDR) with Dolby Vision and immersive sound using Dolby Atmos. The “always on” feature ensures that all of WAVE(TV)’s local and network content, including more than 30 hours of Gray’s live, local coverage from Churchill Downs starting with WAVE(TV)’s local morning news at 5:00 am on Monday, April 29 through the late evening news at 11:00 pm on Saturday, May 4 and including the key horse races in between, will all be in HDR with immersive sound.

“With HDR and immersive sound, WAVE(TV)’s programming will pop. Viewers will immediately notice the enhanced contrast between the brightest and darkest colors on the screen,” said John O’Brien, WAVE(TV)’s General Manager.

Gray’s advances with NEXTGEN are not limited to Louisville. In Las Vegas, Gray’s FOX affiliate KVVU(TV) was the first commercial television station to launch as a NEXTGEN Virtual Broadband IP Channel in December 2023. Earlier this month, KVVU(TV) became the first FOX affiliate and first NEXTGEN Virtual Channel to broadcast its entire programming schedule in HDR with Dolby Vision, again bringing the rich colors and vivid contrasts of HDR to viewers in Las Vegas.

“For many years, broadcasters have been promising to use NEXTGEN TV to bring superior picture quality and immersive sound to viewers. Gray is proud to be among a handful of leading broadcasters who are now delivering on that promise. Our stations in Louisville and Las Vegas are just the beginning of Gray’s efforts to launch more of its NEXTGEN TV stations with these innovative, consumer-pleasing features throughout the summer and into the fall,” said Pat LaPlatney, Gray’s President & Co-CEO.

In addition to advanced picture and sound quality, Gray also is using NEXTGEN to offer new interactive and streaming services for viewers. In Las Vegas and Kansas City, Gray’s stations are using NEXTGEN TV and the RUN3 Platform as a portal to access Gray’s live 24/7 local news-focused national streaming service, Local News Live. With a simple click of the remote, viewers watching KVVU(TV) in Las Vegas or KCTV(TV) in Kansas City on a NEXTGEN television set can access Local News Live. Gray’s stations in Las Vegas and Kansas City are the first to use NEXTGEN as a portal to access a free, live streaming news service providing a new public service to viewers in Gray’s markets.

“With NEXTGEN TV and the RUN3 Platform, Gray is able to bring Local News Live to the millions of viewers in Gray’s markets who have already purchased or will soon purchase a NEXTGEN TV set,” said Sandy Breland, Gray’s Chief Operating Officer.

“In the coming months Gray anticipates it will use NEXTGEN TV and the RUN3 Platform to offer more innovative and interactive features for its viewers, including start-over, interactive gaming channels, and much more,” offered Rob Folliard, Gray’s Senior Vice President and currently the Chairperson of NEXTGEN TV consortium PearlTV. “With the strong penetration of NEXTGEN TV capable television sets in the country, we expect consumers will increasingly recognize how NEXTGEN TV will improve their experiences even more than our industry’s transition from analog to High Definition fifteen years ago.”

About Gray:

Gray Television, Inc. is a multimedia company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Gray is the nation’s largest owner of top-rated local television stations and digital assets. Its television stations serve 114 television markets that collectively reach approximately 36 percent of US television households. This portfolio includes 79 markets with the top-rated television station and 102 markets with the first and/or second highest rated television station. Gray also owns video program companies Raycom Sports, Tupelo Media Group, and PowerNation Studios, as well as the studio production facilities Assembly Atlanta and Third Rail Studios.   Gray owns a majority interest in Swirl Films. For more information, please visit www.gray.tv.

Gray Contact:
Kevin P. Latek, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Development Officer, 404-266-8333

Robert J. Folliard, Senior Vice President, Distribution and Government Affairs, 404-266-8333

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