ATSC 3.0 Advocate Throws In The Towel

LG just dropped a bombshell on the FCC, as they pull ATSC 3.0 support due to patent licensing challenges. While this country has thrived on fruitful public+private technological partnerships that benefit all parties, including serving the greater good, ATSC 3.0 is not that. And hopefully the FCC backs off this nonsense (including facilitating deployment of an incomplete standard, without full hardware support and certification).

From LG,

This challenging and uncertain patent landscape has forced LG to make the difficult decision to suspend the inclusion of ATSC 3.0-compatibility in its 2024 television lineup for the United States. This decision was not made lightly, because LG has been a vocal ATSC 3.0 advocate, a strong supporter of local broadcasters, and a leading developer of television products with the latest NEXTGEN TV technologies. […]

Even though current voluntary industry standards and RAND commitments appear in general to have worked well, a number of factors – including emerging patent challenges, unwillingness of certain parties to commit to RAND terms, and other threats – may undermine the ability of industry participants to innovate, develop new and exciting technologies and applications, and provide ongoing services and features that consumers desire.

As I wrote a few months back,

As to Sinclair’s relevance to the ATSC 3.0 conversation, they own hundreds of stations in dozens of markets and they own a number of critical ATSC 3.0 patents, standing to profit from widespread adoption from any other broadcasters who similarly seek to further track and monetize consumers via the public airwaves. And I’m left to wonder if rolling our own DVR services, via HDHomeRun or Tablo, runs counter to some of those “subscription” services they want in on.

10 thoughts on “ATSC 3.0 Advocate Throws In The Towel”

  1. My only issue with 3.0 is DRM. But for 3.0 I wouldn’t be able to watch OTA due to multipath issues at my location.

    Oddly I live in a city with a Sinclair station, but they have not implemented DRM on their 3.0 broadcast. If and when they do hopefully Silicon Dust (HD Homerun) will will have implemented their DRM solution, but I doubt their solution will allow me to stream my content from outside the house. Otherwise I’ll just watch ABC content on Hulu and some other local news channel. DRM will be self-defeating for Sinclair.

  2. I’ve not seen that, so I don’t know. But unless it shows up on actual content, as opposed to during a commercial, I won’t see it because I DVR content.

    But cable customers have gotten “injected” content for years–ads the cable companies insert in their broadcasts. And “targeted” advertising might be better–might be something I actually might want, which is almost never the case with the other advertising on TV. I must be different than most people because I don’t buy many products advertised on TV, and if I do it will be because of other research.

    Even my streaming services, which should know what I like to watch, don’t seem to target well with their advertising streams, as opposed to their suggestions which may be more on target).

  3. If the broadcasters continue to allow you DVR and/or commercial skip, from a headless tuner.

    And some further color to my point in the post regarding the half-baked nature of these protocols, here’s a Silicon Dust comment from earlier this month:

    Many broadcasters started DRM-encrypting TV channels earlier this year even though there was not pathway for a video gateway product to play these channels on the Android/Fire/Apple/MS/Roku/LG devices people were using to watch ATSC 3.0 channels. 6 months later and we are still waiting on A3SA. Even in a testing environment the A3SA part still isn’t working.

    Also in regards to the supposed ‘standard’:

    The paradigm shift is that prior to ATSC 3.0 broadcast companies couldn’t tell device manufacturers what to do. Now they can because playing DRM protected content requires a private contract between the A3SA and the device manufacturers. We aren’t even allowed to publicly share what is in that contract.

    Regarding the data mining and ad-insertion that you may be OK with, just a reminder these broadcasters are utilizing and benefiting from federally licensed spectrum. Which differs from a business relationship we opt into for the Hulus and Comcasts of the world. Also hardware manufacturers are now incurring additional costs to largely benefit the broadcasters. Perhaps this LG thing will change the math in a meaningful way. I assume Silicon Dust doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers and has limited resources as a small company, but they’re uniquely positioned to make some noise (the way TiVo used to engage the FCC on CableCARD matters).

  4. It’s quite obvious that the broadcasters get their rocks off on slamming the door in the face of customers would would dare to record an OTA broadcast and skip the commercials and, apparently, there are no consequences for this malicious conduct.

  5. So. It really is a nothing burger.
    Because LG only really cared about customers paying premium for the timer.
    Since it wasn’t available n anything below the G series.
    Whereas Hisense offers it on more of the entry level models.
    So, I’m not going to shed any tears. LG is notorious for not supporting their product after purchase.

  6. ATSC 1.0 signals have also improved in the last ~15 years here in my local area via stations being authorized to increase power (often with a frequency change) transmitter upgrades, and for at least one, full antenna replacement.

    And since I’ll be able to keep using my current OTA TiVos for another ~5 years I’m in no great hurry to switch to ATSC 3.0.

    Heck, I bought the HDHR ATSC 3.0 tuner via the campaign but haven’t used it yet.

  7. I’d counter their claims of “growing pains” with “you had one job” … to facilitate tuning television channels. And, yeah, DRM seems to lead to slower channel changes in many cases and outright unavailable programming in others. There’s many CableCARD parallels here, but more poorly implemented (if you can believe that) and a co-opting of the public airwaves by private interests.

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