The Next Generation TV Transition: Can the FCC Protect Consumers and Promote Innovation?
Just eight years after completing the analog-to-digital TV transition, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to authorize a transition to “Next-Gen TV,” with a vote scheduled for the agency’s open meeting on Nov. 16. The proposed order would authorize a “voluntary” transition that would not immediately force consumers to buy a new TV. Still, contentious issues remain in play concerning whether some viewers will lose local channels and whether pay TV providers or consumers will ultimately bear other costs related to the transition.
Broadcasters argue that Next-Gen TV, based on a new ATSC 3.0 standard, will offer enhanced services and allow them to compete with cable and wireless internet platforms in the battle to stream video to devices both at home and on the go. ATSC 3.0 offers the potential for ultra-high definition pictures, immersive audio, interactive advertising, and the delivery of broadcast video to mobile devices.
Despite the benefits of enhanced broadcast services, consumer advocates are concerned that the FCC will allow local TV stations to broadcast to fewer households and downgrade signals from high to standard definition. Cable and other pay TV providers are concerned that the major broadcast groups will use their leverage in retransmission consent negotiations to demand carriage for ATSC 3.0 services, costs that could be added to the cable and satellite bills of the majority of consumers who rely on pay TV services.
At its November meeting the FCC will also vote on an Order that would drastically roll back media ownership limits on consolidation in the broadcasting sector. The pending merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media looms over all these proceedings, as the potential mega-broadcaster stands to benefit most from the FCC’s proposed media ownership rollback, as well as from ATSC 3.0, thanks to patent royalties and retransmission consent leverage.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel will lead off a group of speakers from a variety of companies and groups that have been central players in these debates.
Jessica Rosenworcel, @JRosenworcel
Senior Policy Counsel, Consumers Union
Ross Lieberman, @ROSSatACA
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, American Cable Association
Ross Marchand, @RossAMarchand
Policy Analyst, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, NTCA–the Rural Broadband Association
Counsel, American Television Alliance
Michael Calabrese, @MCalabreseNAF
Director, Wireless Future Project at New America’s Open Technology Institute
Lunch will be served.