Mark Aitken, Sinclair's vice president of advanced technology, was on hand this year to offer his take on the absent ATSC 3.0 hardware.
"I think it's very simple," said Aitken. "There two issues. The difficult one is content protection, and this issue has not been answered. You've got a lot of dancing around on the part of the networks with respect to what their requirements are for content protection, and not a single solution that has been put on the table has been supported by all of the content providers-and I might add content distributors or MVPDs. So, you have a bit of a stalemate. For me, it's a fairly easy one to resolve. I look at it and say as a starting point 'if Widevine [DRM] is good enough for Netflix, why isn't it good enough for broadcast?'
"The networks will always try to extract the broadcaster from out of the middle of the relationship with the consumer," continued Aitken, noting that reluctance of networks and program providers to allow their content to be transmitted by affiliates deploying ATSC-M/H [aka Mobile DTV] was one of the reasons for that mobile initiative's ultimate demise.
"I think there's been a soft promise made on the part of broadcasters that we're willing to come to a solution. There's been an unwillingness on the part of the large content players to sit down and really try to solve that problem, at least with Sinclair. They have their own views and their views are not shared equally with all broadcasters. And so, for the very same reasons that we ended up with Dolby AC-4 as an abstraction of the Atmos production environment in Hollywood, the issue of content protection is being driven by those same Hollywood entities, which for a broadcaster is driven through the network."
Aitken summed up the situation by stating:
"It is a political problem, absolutely."
Aitken said that Sinclair will light up 26 markets by the end of 2019.
"There's a requirement by the FCC that there be some replication across ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0," he said. "There may have to be an opportunity to force that issue at a regulatory level, which nobody really wants. But at the end of the day sometimes you solve problems by spilling a little blood first."
Now all of us TV broadcasters owe the forward tech leaning folks at Sinclair a lot for blazing forward with these new chips and r&d. And we are all looking forward to these chips being integrated into TV's, mobile devices, and many other devices. And it does not matter much that Sinclair will make a lot from i patent royalities from 3.0, and other profit motives.
But what is alarming is that Mark Aitken is signaling that Sinclair is going to challenge the FCC's Next Gen TV rule making for the full power corporate welfare stations and the mandatory 1.0 & 3.0 signals they have to provide to their communities. Wereas LPTV has no such combo restriction, and may flashcut to 3.0 without any legacy 1.0 signal coverage.
So as Mark says,
sometimes you solve problems by spilling a little blood first".
Which to us means that the blood may be spliied over this looming regulatory fight to change the dual standard broadcasts requirement until the public was seeded with enough tuners are some future date.
But we got to ask, if the primary stations are allowed to flash cut to 3.0, and leaving behind many, will they be giving up their must carry and mandatory retrans also? You can't have both!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or can you?
What if LPTV spectrum stays 1.0 while the booming full powers go 3.0? Don't make no sense at all! Not even a starter. So why then, if the full powers are now stymied by their dual standard requirement, don't they just lite up as many class a's and lptv as they can with 3.0? Or are the wunderkin at the major station groups boxed in by the models they have sold to the street for money? Is must carry and retrans just one part of big media bitting itself in another part.
LPTV spectrum is now the least regulated of any TV spectrum, and it is ready and able to go to 3.0, and as with the full powers will be playing in mobile, transportation corridors, urban density, roof tops, in building wifi, you name it, the new standard enables the tv spectrum part of 5G. And we can early adopters, or late arrivals, your choice and whenever. These spectrum based businesses evolve, adpate, and like Mark Aiken says, ya gotta spill some blood, or as I would say, walk those 10 thousands steps, keep spending money.