The NTA Convention took place in Salt Lake City, Utah in late May 2021. For most attendees and exhibitors this was the first gathering of broadcasters since the pandemic. Like most of the US, Salt Lake City and the state of Utah ended the mask mandate in April 2021. The NTA and hotel advised safety precautions would be in place. During registration and in the beginning, many wore masks. By the end of the conventions, mask wearing was relaxed. It was great to see faces, old friends and new. The convention achieved what it set out to do – continue the support, education and fellowship of engineers, paid and volunteer, to continue in efforts to bring over the air free television to all communities.
The daily agenda was provided in advance outlining the speakers and discussion groups. Social gatherings and time to visit with exhibitors was also blocked into the schedule. An afternoon LPTV Workshop that covered the legal requirements to turn a translator to LPTV, other considerations for owning a LPTV station, commercial spot insertion and programming kicked off the Thursday afternoon beginning of the conference.
Friday morning, NTA President John Terrill delivered opening remarks and introduced the NTA Board of Directors (15 deep) and Convention Staff. NTA Legal Counsel gave “the Washington Report” which was followed by FCC Staff, Mark Colombo via Zoom. Hossein Hashemzadeh, present at the convention, shared practical information on topics including: how to request an STA, the video services renewal period’s necessary reports as well as procedural tips, and clarifications on the FCC-21-21 Report and Order modifying DTS rules to promote expanded use by broadcasters. With each session, time was given for attendees to ask questions and gain more insight on topic and sometimes off topic but related material.
Beyond FCC regulations, there were updates on reimbursements, the analog shut off, and tips on using the FCC’s new LMS “Licensing and Management System” search engine. Multiple presentations on a variety of ATSC 3.0 related topics, Flash Cutting with the looming July 13 deadline, and spectrum allocation issues including potential future auctions took place Friday and Saturday. Round table discussions, followed by an open mike Q&A sessions encouraged questions for NTA board members that included, Wayne Johnson, Jim Pecore, Charlie Cannaliato and Jack Mills.
Saturday evening’s banquet included an informative and entertaining presentation on the history of the NTA by Michael Couzens, NTA VP Legal Affairs, and Keith Larson, retired FCC. Some in attendance saw themselves in pictures taken 40 plus year ago as the fight for approval and recognition from the FCC for TV translators began. For those seeing that for the first time, it introduced some key dedicated individuals that worked together to create the NTA and highlighted accomplishments of these individuals and the organization as a whole.
As an exhibitor, Anywave received some good leads on potential orders, some actual orders, and some customer support follow up questions. The equipment that received the most interest were are our indoor and outdoor on channel repeaters/gap fillers that will help stations take advantage of the new DTS rule changes, our ATSC 3.0 translator/remodulator, and Channel 6 digital/analog FM using ATSC 3.0.
2020-2021 was challenging for everyone. On top of the COVID challenges, broadcasters faced FCC switch over deadlines, expenses, new technologies and challenging time line logistics. The NTA annual meeting and convention provide was a good opportunity to look forward and also look back at how much has been achieved. Congratulations to all and thank you to the NTA Board and all who attended.