During her address today at the 2023 NAB Show, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared two developments in the Next Generation Television (“Next Gen TV” or “ATSC 3.0”) rulemaking.  

The Future of Television Initiative  

The Chairwoman introduced the Future of Television initiative (the “Initiative”), a private-public leadership group hosted by the NAB, dedicated to “develop[ing] a roadmap for a transition to ATSC 3.0 in a way that serves the public interest.”    

To that end, the Initiative will harness the expertise of stakeholders from the broadcast industry, government, and public interest groups to serve on its three working groups:   

First, a working group on consumer protection will focus on challenges such as the deployment of a technology that is not backward-compatible with pre-existing TV sets.  Chairwoman Rosenworcel emphasized that “[w]e can’t saddle consumers with unworkable [TV] sets or big expenses just to continue watching the local television that they know and trust.”    

Second, a group dedicated to identifying the “conditions needed to get to the other side [of the transition]” will discuss technical details on a wide breadth of issues ranging from the state of simulcasting and capacity for multicasting to labelling standards for tuners.    

Third, a group of stakeholders will work towards establishing post-transition broadcast rules.  “We are going to need clear rules and a clear understanding of how they fit in communications law,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.  

The Initiative will soon be contacting stakeholders to begin the “big-picture dialogue” that requires widespread participation to be successful.  

Update on the Next Gen TV Rulemaking  

Chairwoman Rosenworcel also announced that a draft Third Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is presently circulating within the FCC that would to “update” rules that “balance the benefits of stations moving to ATSC 3.0 with measures that minimize cost and disruption for the viewers that still rely on ATSC 1.0 programming.”  The Chairwoman contextualized the proposed updates within recent progress in the deployment of Next Gen TV, including the expansion in reach of ATSC 3.0 signals to 60% of television markets, and inclusion by manufacturers of ATSC 3.0 tuners in newer television sets.    

Reflecting on the significance of Next Gen TV to the future of broadcast, the Chairwoman stated, “we will see innovation in broadcasting that will be on par with the new services that have emerged on so many of the other screens around us.”    

For more information or to discuss ASTC 3.0 rules as they relate to your station, please contact your FHH attorney.