The Institute - June 2018 - 6

The Future
of Broadcast
New standard promises immersive
audio, interactivity, and hyperlocal
emergency alerts B Y A M A N D A D AV I S



standards are flexible enough
to accommodate applications that haven't even been
developed yet."
South Korea has already
adopted the standards, taking advantage of many of
their features during this
year's Winter Olympics in
Pyeongchang, where there are
already ATSC 3.0-compatible
televisions and receivers. In
the United States, televisions
do not yet comply with the
standards, but converters-
gateway devices that can
be incorporated in existing home-entertainment
systems to receive ATSC 3.0
broadcasts-are expected to
be available soon.

The standards offer broadcasters the sort of flexibility
that viewers have grown
accustomed to with streaming services including
Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Soon, for example, viewers
will be able to catch a major
sports event by tuning in on
their tablet while, say, traveling on a train.
Because the standard
is IP-based, broadcasters
could offer apps to go along
with TV shows, making the
experience more interactive.
Certain programs might come
with an app that launches a
trivia game about characters
in a sitcom, for example, or
provides in-depth information

about the subject of a
IEEE Fellow Rich Chernock, chair of the ATSC's
Technology Standards Group,
TG3, notes that the standards
also expand the potential
for hyperlocal advertising.
Broadcasters could deliver
commercials about stores
and events in viewers' immediate area if the viewers allow
the broadcaster to detect
their location.
Having access to viewers'
locations also would allow
broadcasters to issue an
emergency alert for a small
area, says IEEE Life Fellow
James O'Neal, editor of IEEE
Broadcast Technology and
a member of The Institute's
editorial advisory board.
"Let's say you're at home
during a severe storm and
a tornado is about to touch
down near your neighborhood," O'Neal says. "Your
ATSC 3.0 television would
automatically 'wake up' and
play an audio alert and show
a map detailing the areas in
the tornado's path and let you
know what to do next."

TV picture and sound quality has advanced by leaps
and bounds in the past
decade. Until ATSC 3.0,
however, broadcasters have
been unable to transmit programs that take advantage of
all the advances.

Many modern televisions
have a high dynamic range
(HDR), which extends the
number of shades of black,
white, and gray that can be
transmitted and displayed,
as well as improves the contrast ratio (how bright or dark
the images can appear). HDR
also offers extended colors,
allowing a much broader palette to be transmitted.
Until the ATSC 3.0
standards were approved,
companies were unable to
broadcast in HDR.
The standards also will let
broadcasters offer immersive audio-another feature
that can make content seem
truer to life. "If you have a
surround-sound system, and
you're watching a live broadcast of a fireworks display, the
sound of the fireworks will
emanate from above the TV,"
O'Neal says.
"It's a vast improvement
over traditional channelbased audio, in which
sound is directed at different quadrants of the room,"
Chernock says. "Now you
can have object-based audio,
in which sound comes from
different elements on the
screen. For example, if you're
watching a football game,
you can choose to listen to
either the announcer from
the home team or the away
team-or you can tune them
out entirely and just listen to
the sound of the crowd."


Chernock, Richer, and O'Neal
agree that it will take time for
TV manufacturers to catch
up with the new standards,
especially because they're
voluntary. That is in contrast
to the 2009 transition from
analog to digital television-
in which U.S. broadcasters
were ordered to stop transmitting analog signals by a
specific date.
"Once U.S. broadcasters
begin putting ATSC 3.0-
compatible programming
on the air and show what
it can do, the consumer
electronics industry will soon
follow," Chernock says. This
year more than two dozen
U.S. broadcast companies
plan to test compatible content. Companies in Canada
and Mexico are also getting
on board, Chernock says.
"By next year's Consumer
Electronics Show, I think
we'll start to see numerous
ATSC 3.0 TVs and receivers
on the showroom floor,"
Richer predicts.
In the meantime, the
ATSC, IEEE, and other organizations are working to educate
consumers and broadcasters
about the standards. IEEE
Educational Activities, for
example, is partnering with
the Society of Motion Picture
and Television Engineers
on a series of online courses.
They're scheduled to be available this month. ◆




home to catch the finale
of your favorite cable TV
show, you soon might be
able to tune in on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Thanks to a new suite of standards, broadcasters will be
able to provide access to live
programming anytime and
anywhere, and on multiple
devices. They also will offer
interactivity as well as better
sound and picture quality.
Those are some of the features made possible by ATSC
3.0, a suite of standards for
digital terrestrial broadcasting, authorized for the United
States in November by the
Federal Communications
Commission. The suite incorporates the first IP-based
broadcast standard, allowing
broadcasting companies
to simultaneously transmit
content over the airwaves and
the Internet.
ATSC stands for Advanced
Television Systems Committee, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that develops
voluntary technical standards
for digital television.
"When we started developing these standards, we
decided to start from scratch
instead of simply adding on
to the previous version," says
IEEE Senior Member Mark
Richer, president of the ATSC.
"The result is a suite of 20 standards that incorporate several
new technologies. These

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