Professor Eric Handler
Directed Study Thesis
The broadcast industry is faced with many alternatives in the format-agnostic media landscape, but it can differentiate itself through its robustness in emergencies, local programming lineup, and by rebranding itself with a code of ethics reminiscent of years past. A new broadcast standard, ATSC 3, offers the tools to provide a far greater public service in terms of emergency communications, reception, and program quantity and quality. It is a system of established and open standards such as HTML5, HEVC, XML, and MPEG-DASH that interconnect with other systems, such as the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System and the internet at large. The FCC is called to approve the ATSC 3.0 standard as voluntary while respecting the needs of MVPD operators by not enforcing must-carry restrictions for ATSC 3.0 signals.
With the tools to provide content on any platform, organizations will need to focus on their own development to cultivate mixed-skills teams that can produce interactive content. A focus on organizational values will guide organizations in developing standards and goals that will motivate their members and help encourage their personal development. A welcoming culture is innovative and through workflow management and automation organizations can do more with fewer people. Broadcasters can regain the trust of the public by rebranding themselves with a voluntary journalistic code of ethics, and by providing reliable service in times of crisis.
Table of Contents:
Table of Contents
Delimitation of Topics
A Relevant History of Broadcasting
The Industry Now
The ATSC 3 Stack
The Public’s Pinnacle Interest
Leading the Pace of Change
Types of Television Regulation
“To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope.”
– Herbert Hoover
(Secretary of Commerce, President)
Thank you to my parents John and Joan Pooley for supporting me through my endeavors.
Thank you to my Directed Study Advisor Eric Handler.
Thank you to the Trustees, Administration, Faculty, and Staff of Emerson College.
Thank you to all of the engineers who I’ve harassed, annoyed, confused, or otherwise bothered in
the process of researching this project; Jim Starzynski, Rich Chernock, Skip Pizzi and others.
Thank you to Communication Studies professors Ted Hollingworth and Vincent Raynauld for
helping me expand the scope of this project to include management and communications.
Thank you to the staff at the Emerson College Library.
Thank you to all of the speakers at the 2016 IEEE BTS Symposium.
Thank you to Grant Fleming, Andrew Sclafani, and all my friends.
This work is dedicated to Tony, Cheryl, and everyone who inhabits the TV studio office at Emerson College. A community lives in the hallways outside the studios in the Tufte PPC, in the control rooms, under the audio mixer, and even on the lift. Along with a massive amount of practical experience, the co-curricular organizations at Emerson offer students a forum for communal learning, personal development, and sharing their content.
One’s education is not complete without a thorough background in applying theoretical ideas to practical problems. From the inverse square law, to leadership theory, and with a focus on content Emerson was only able to provide such an education and the experience because of the collective efforts of its students. I can only hope that I have contributed to others’ learning.
Have you seen Stranger Things? I just bought a retractable antenna for my HAM radio since I thought it might be a bit trendier because of the show. Television has been a silent lifeblood of American culture for years. It is where a large amount of our political discourse plays out and it is what (used to) draw us to our water coolers to talk about last night’s episode. With the onslaught of television being produced nowadays, it is impossible to keep up with all of the shows our friends are interested in. People are personalizing their narrative and media diets, they are reinforcing their echo chambers, and of course, we’re all terrified of spoilers. Now, a new set of technologies will allow viewers to customize the viewing experience to their viewing environment, accessibility concerns, and help them make use of companion devices. Maybe these technologies can be applied to the media regain the waning trust of the public.
Broadcasters should seek to create content that not only exploits the multi-modal viewing habits of today’s audience but provides them the greatest utility that an interactive medium can provide. The Emergency Alert System of the future will turn on devices, provide alerts in numerous languages and formats, and provide interactive maps and survival information for natural disasters, active shooter situations, or any crisis. Future newsrooms will be producing every story in multiple formats for simultaneous distribution on written, visual, audible, and interactive means. With the next generation of broadcast technology, ATSC 3, reception has reached places it did not even reach with analog video broadcasting. The industry is going through a shake up with the spectrum repack, one could even call it a crisis, and that provides the unique opportunity to upgrade our product to one that will provide a much greater public service.
Delimitation Of Topics
I cannot claim to have deep knowledge of advertising nor of the inner workings of management operations in broadcasting, mainly because I am an undergraduate student of Television Production. I do, however, take the opportunity to delineate a relevant history of regulation and programming in mass communications in order to provide context for current discussions of the Emergency Alert System, Fairness Doctrine, equal time rule, and the repack. For discussions of diversity in race and gender I identify myself as a white, cis, male from Norwood, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. The details of ATSC 3 have not fully been released and some are subject to change so reference the Society of Broadcast Engineers, IEEE, SMPTE, and the standards for up to date information.
For those who do not have a specific technical interest in the standard and are more interested in how it fits into the media landscape, I assume the generalized descriptions of the standard are permanent (though extendable), and you can too. Readers are invited to develop their own opinions on the regulations discussed, and the history is given so you may attempt to do so. An assortment of widely recognized theories and authorities are referenced in this work and a thorough run-through the bibliography is encouraged for those seeking further learning.
Any who wish to offer feedback with commentary, additional information, or corrections are encouraged to publish rebuttals or make contact. If you would like to collaborate on a study or offer me a job, this entire paper, my resume, portfolio, and contact information are available on my website johnpooley3.com.
A Relevant History of Broadcasting
So who invented wireless? You could say it was a group effort back as long as you want, maybe Thales of Miletus rubbing cloth against amber to create static (~600 B.C), but the EBU Technical Review summarizes “it is broadly agreed that the works of Faraday, Maxwell, and Hertz were vital in laying the foundations for Marconi, who was the first to exploit the practical applications of electromagnetic waves” (EBU 83-85; “Inside Focus”). Faraday discovered (1821) electromagnetic rotation, figured out that a changing magnetic field is what is needed to generate electricity, and speculated that electric and magnetic forces might travel like “the vibrations upon the surface of disturbed water” (EBU 84). Maxwell took Faraday’s beautifully simplistic writings and wrote them in mathematical terms (1855) that repaired Faraday’s reputation. He later theorized (early 1860s) that the speed of electric current is roughly equivalent to the speed of light (EBU 84-85). In A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field (1865) Maxwell debuts his famous equations, a system of equations 20 variables large which, although it relied on the theory of an aether, provided a model that Heaviside eventually found useful (EBU 86; Rautio).
Heaviside simplified the equations into their common form of 4 equations requiring vector calculus showing that a relationship between changing electric and magnetic fields of what are now known as radio waves (Rautio). Hertz empirically proved (late 1880s) the existence of radio waves based on Maxwell’s research, and he later developed a dipole antenna (EBU 88, NASA; Sengupta). Lodge saw the research of Hertz and went on to develop a coherer (1889) which with improvements made by Branly, acted as a receiver in the Morse code telegraph system he demonstrated in 1894 (EBU 90). 1895: In Italy, Marconi finds that an elevated aerial can reach a couple kilometers. In Russia, Popov “invents” radio (EBU 91).
Marconi is the first one to commercialize wireless communications (1897) and in 1899 he made it 50 km over the English Channel, well over the horizon (EBU 91). By grounding his aerials, he discovered radio waves could travel beyond the horizon through ground waves (Webb; “Building the Broadcast Band”). That same year (1899) Marconi’s company also provided coverage of the America’s Cup yacht race, the first radio traffic network (Benjamin 16).
In 1901, Marconi receives a transmission from across the Atlantic and by 1902 he was receiving messages while at sea from thousands of kilometers away (EBU 92-94). In 1903 the International Radiotelegraph Union (later ITU) is formed with a focus on shipborne communications (EBU 93; Howeth). Early one morning (1906) Marconi’s team was testing the alternator-transmitter in Plymouth, Massachusetts and from some mechanical error the receive station in Scotland began hearing the voice of a researcher on the other end (Cadd, The Radioscientist). By the end of that year Fessenden made the first program transmission featuring his own voice, a violin part, and a Biblical reading (“The First Broadcast”, NPR). Herrold was the next pioneer in broadcasting actual programming with San Jose Calling (1909), the predecessor to KQW and KCBS the product of his Herrold College of Engineering and Wireless (Schneider, “KGW”).
With the Mann-Elkins Act (1910) the Department of Commerce was given oversight over telegraph and telephone companies (Dixon 596). Interestingly, it inherited the “common carrier” definition from the Interstate Commerce Act (1887) used for railroads when defining what would become telecommunications (Dempsey 1162; Dixon 596). The Wireless Ship Act (1910) required ships travelling over 200 miles offshore with more than 50 passengers to be equipped with a radio capable of reaching 100 miles and employ a certified radio operator (US Legal; “1910 Act”). It was prompted by the rescue of many of the passengers of the RMS Republic in 1909 and corroborated by the rescue of the passengers of the SS Merida in 1911 (Krattenmaker & Powe 5; F. Collins; “Crippled Liner”; “Hundreds Saved”).
In 1912 the RMS Titanic sank while carrying a Marconi radio, and the responding ships were able to save 1200 survivors, with much credit given to Marconi (Krattenmaker & Powe; Garper). It is regrettable that the California, which was 20 miles away, had cut one engine to navigate and thus had disabled its radio (Benjamin 16). Additionally, the Titanic was not afforded radio traffic priority and thus information it was transmitting was interpreted incorrectly (Benjamin 16).
In general, the military had been complaining about interference and impersonators (Benjamin 17). Additionally, some ships weren’t able to reach help when requested in the early mornings, so in the aftermath of the Titanic, Congress passed the Radio Act of 1912 which required a continuous watch by at least two licensed operators and, more importantly, it gave the Secretary of Commerce and Labor jurisdiction to grant radio licenses (Krattenmaker & Powe 6; Worts; “1912 Act”). This legislation included the directive to broadcast a “broad interfering wave” in time of distress, language still codified by the Communications Act (“1912 Act”; “S. 6412”; “The Communications Act of 1934”). These licenses were mandatory for anyone wishing to operate a transmitter between states, but a precedent was set when the Secretary fined an amateur radio operator operating within California (“RSB Announcements”). Each license specified location and purpose, estimated range, and designated wavelength and and division of time (“1912 Act”). On the coast, time was divided with the first fifteen minutes of each hour being allocated solely to military and naval traffic, or distress calls (Intercity Radio Co, “1912 Act”). It also adopted the international signal of distress, “SOS”, and provided standard frequencies and bounds (“1912 Act”; “CQD and SOS”). In 1914, regulations published by the Department of Commerce would denote public service stations, limited commercial, experimental, educational, and three types of amateur stations (“Radio Communication Laws”).
With the emergence of vacuum tube continuous wave transmitter shortly before World War I, high quality audio broadcasting was possible (“Building the Broadcast Band”; “Pre-War Vacuum-tube”). The development of commercial and other types of radio was delayed during the war, but in 1920 WWV the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) began transmitting music, then the “Daily Market Marketgram”, and finally in 1922 they settled on transmitting time and information (“Radio During World War One”; NIST; Nelson 1-2). Also in 1920, KDKA began broadcasting as the first commercially licensed radio station. They and WWJ would broadcast results for the 1920 presidential election (“KDKA”; CBS Pittsburgh). There were only five broadcast license applications until WJZ broadcast the 1921 World Series between the Yankees and the Giants (Benjamin 18; Krattenmaker & Powe 7).
As decided by the London Convention (1913) the prevailing opinion was that interference was an unavoidable evil and should simply be relegated and minimized (Intercity Radio Co). Herbert Hoover, later President, brought an engineering mindset to the Department of Commerce based on his background travelling internationally as a mine engineer (Miller Center; Goodman & Gring 402-404; Engineer’s Week). Hoover seeked to introduce a fourth category of radio use, broadcasting, to the categories delineated by the Radio Act of 1912; amateur, commercial, and military (Benjamin 18; Krattenmaker & Powe 8). By the end of his first year in office, Hoover amended (1921) the Regulations Governing Radio Operators and the Use of Radio Apparatus on Ships and on Land with a provision that “radio stations used for broadcasting news, concerts, lectures, and such matter. A wavelength of 360 meters is authorized for such service, and a wavelength of 485 meters is authorized for broadcasting crop reports and weather forecasts, provided…” (“Amendments to 8/15/1919”; “Commerce History”; Krattenmaker & Powe 8).
As the Secretary of Commerce he worked closely (1922) with the industry to develop the recommendations for radio regulation including a separate broadcast band and the famous standard the “public interest, as represented by service to the listener, should be the basis for broadcasting privilege” (“Working it out together”). The first Department of Commerce Conference on Radio Telephony was held in 1922 by Hoover under the direction of President Harding. It recommended giving the Secretary of Commerce the power to revoke licenses, allocating a specific broadcast band, and asked that no more licenses be granted (“Working it out together”; “Report of Department of Commerce”).
With no action from congress, Hoover executed a repack in 1922 in order to support three, rather than two low frequency 360 meter band stations per market and often ordered time sharing agreements (Benjamin 19; “Building the Broadcast Band”). By 1923, Hoover may have been overzealous with his enforcement of these recommendations not written into law, as he tried to deny a qualified applicant for a license and lost Hoover, Secretary of Commerce, v. Intercity Radio Co. (1923) (Intercity Radio Co; Sochay; Krattenmaker & Powe 9).
In 1923 concerns about interference came to the forefront with the discovery of skywaves, due to greatly increased receiver sensitivity with vacuum tubes (“Building the Broadcast Band”). Hoover brought to a second meeting of the committee (1923) a recommendation for a new band plan that was contrary to that in the Radio Act of 1912 (Benjamin 19-20). It would move maritime users to a band outside what the Radio Act recommended, commercial users to government spectrum, and he moved the navy but they didn’t mind because they got new equipment (Krattenmaker & Powe 10). The committee supported this plan and recommended that the broadcast band be split up into 10 khz bandwidth channels. Hoover also requested the industry lobby for regulation that would empower him to refuse licenses. Westinghouse (with AT&T’s blessing) wanted to divide the country into seven areas each with a large city where broadcasts would originate (“Recommendations of the”, “Working it out together”, “Building the broadcast band”).
Radio Broadcast testifies that interference with broadcast stations had been “suddenly remedied” by Hoover’s extra-legislative efforts (Krattenmaker & Powe 10). The third meeting opened with Hoover addressing the audience of the conference and 17 stations east of Denver, this meeting would result in the industry asking the government to regulate them based on a “public interest” standard while the public retains ownership of the airwaves (“Working it out together”, “Recommendations for regulation”). The fourth meeting proclaimed “public interest, as represented by service to the listener, should be the basis for broadcasting privilege” (“Working it out together”; “Proceedings of the fourth”).
After the fourth meeting Hoover announced a moratorium on granting licenses as interference once again become obnoxious to the public (Krattenmaker & Powe 11). The last nail in the coffin of Hoover’s licensing powers was U.S. v. Zenith Radio Corporation which ruled that Hoover did not have the power to regulate time sharing agreements and congress was finally prompted to act (Krattenmaker & Powe 11; “Working it out together”; “Hoover Zenith Case Briefs”; Intercity Radio Co; Benjamin 20-21). Representative Dill, in a piece for the New York Times proclaims that “this period saw ‘pirating’ of wave lengths by stations and conditions remained practically the same” but many accounts recall chaos during this period of industry self-regulation (Zollmann 123; NY Times 1926; Krattenmaker & Powe 12). An exception to this decision that didn’t see review from a higher court was the injunction granted on behalf of WGN in Chicago to protect their “property right to the wave length [they] occupy” in late 1926 (“COURT FORBIDS WGES”; Krattenmaker & Powe 16-17)
The Radio Act of 1927 is the result of Hoover’s labor–it created an independent government body, the Federal Radio Commission, and proclaimed that the airwaves are owned by the public. It gave the FRC authority to grant licenses based on the ability to serve the “public interest, convenience, or necessity” but did not give them authority to infringe on the first amendment rights of broadcasters (Benjamin 21; “Radio Act of 1927”). It specifically exempted stations that had traditionally broadcasted on a certain frequency from laying claim to it past the term of the license. Unlike the Radio Act of 1912, the 1927 act specifically denies any ownership rights based on use of the spectrum (Zollmann 123-4; Krattenmaker & Powe 12; “Radio Act of 1912”). Interestingly, the act requires a construction permit be granted by the FRC in addition to a license, which implies property rights, and makes both non-transferrable (Zollmann 124-5; “Radio Act of 1927”). The sale of licenses based on property rights had even been discussed in congress after a Judge of the Commerce Department testified that broadcasters were already participating in private bargaining over the spectrum (Krattenmaker & Powe 15). The act developed a difference in the way newspaper was (not) being regulated and the way broadcasters were restricted with the “equal time rule” debuted in Section 18 that mandated equal time be granted to political candidates provided that the licensee does not have censorship control (Messere 3; “Radio Act of 1927). In 1928, the Davis Act was passed which required that five geographic zones have equal numbers of licenses, and this made it much harder for the FRC in its progress repacking (Krattenmaker & Powe 21; Benjamin 24).
The first great free speech decision in regards to radio licensing was the case of “Fighting Bob” Schuler, a Reverend, who began his radio operation in 1926 and was shut down by the Federal Radio Commission in 1930. He had three shows on the shared frequency, a sermon, a “Question Hour”, and an hour of “Civic Talk”. The latter two programs were used to make claims of corruption in Los Angeles that drew a wide audience and could not be disproven, but he ultimately lost his license and was charged with contempt for talking about the proceedings on air, another First Amendment issue which would be protected in the present day. The courts had ruled that programming contrary to the public interest would be evidence for the revocation of a license (Powe 13-17; Krattenmaker & Powe 25). This would come up again with the case of Dr. Brinkley who ran a medical service to implant goat glands into men’s, but also ran a community-minded station (Powe 22-23; Krattenmaker & Powe 25-27). On his program he would provide uninformed medical advice, advertise the services of his hospital, and note that his medicines ship prepaid (Powe 25-26). He was forced off the air and lost his practice in 1930, so he built a station in Mexico that would blanket the US with signal until 1934 when the “border-blasters” would be shut down (Braudaway). Other examples of license revocations based on programming include WVED, a Socialist station in New York, and WCFL in Chicago for “narrowcasting” to their labor movement audience (Krattenmaker & Powe 23-24).
FDR’s New Deal was to combine the controls of the Federal Radio Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission’s regulation of telecommunications, and other ancillary regulations into a single body, the Federal Communications Commission (“Communications Act of 1934”; Messere 4). It would repeal the Davis Act, but provide the FCC the same initiative given to the FRC to act in service to what the “public convenience, interest, or necessity requires” (“The Communications Act of 1934” 214). The Communications Act of 1934 stands to be the prevailing legislation affecting broadcasting. The law provided a framework, but the regulations weren’t going to write themselves. The successful demonstrations of FM radio and television broadcasting only complicated the FCC’s work on restructuring the spectrum (“News Release”; “Policy for Processing FM Applications”). World War II would help America out of the Great Depression, but it would greatly slow the development of radio due to shortages of personnel and equipment (“Requirements for Broadcast Station Operators”).
With the events leading to World War II, Murrow would distinguish him by producing European News Roundup (1938) with correspondents in numerous different countries (Cozma 668). The FCC published a “Memorandum of European War Coverage” in 1939 which discouraged newscasters from shocking the public unnecessarily and predicting “descriptions of hypothetical horrors” (“Memorandum of European War Coverage”). Broadcasters were to be temperate and should inform the audience “that the news from many sources, whether it be press bulletins or direct broadcasts, is censored and must be appraised in the light of this censorship (“Memorandum of European War Coverage”). In 1939 the first television broadcast of the New York World’s Fair by NBC was received by 3000 sets in New York City (“The Story of Television”)
At this point, numerous radio networks had developed; NBC even had multiple denoted by color; red, blue, and for the West Coast, gold (Mishkind). It was founded out of RCA in 1926 out of the stations of RCA (Owned by GE), AT&T, and Westinghouse (Watkins). RCA had been formed by General Electric at the request of the US Government out of the Marconi Company of America to bring the ownership into American hands (“Big Business and Radio”). CBS had formed in 1927 as United Independent Broadcasters, and was bought by the Columbia Phonograph Company in 1928 (Erickson). A smaller network, Mutual, had been formed in 1934 but did not own any stations or produce network content, and numerous regional networks had formed by the decision in 1941 (“Report on Chain Broadcasting”). The FCC wanted to balance the relationship between networks providing quality programming and local stations providing local and live content, and thus released the Report on Chain Broadcasting (1941) which prevented stations from entering agreements to solely broadcast content from a single network, to affiliate with a network for longer than a certain term, and requiring that stations retain the right to reject programming (“Report on Chain Broadcasting”). NBC and CBS accounted for 85% of the nation’s radio wattage in the nighttime hours, contracted stations for 5 years at a time, and restricted their ability to preempt programming (“Report on Chain Broadcasting”). The decision found that this control over the programming of stations was contrary to the public interest, and that the station licensee was the party responsible for ensuring programming services the public interest. Furthermore, they found networks licensing multiple stations within the same market or a station affiliating with multiple networks was contrary to the public interest (Report on Chain Broadcasting). NBC appealed the rulemaking of course, but
NBC inc. V. United States held the FCC’s restrictions and in 1943 the American Broadcasting company was formed out of the blue network (NBC v. US; Mishkind; Krattenmaker & Powe 30).
During the war, citizenship tests were done on every licensee and amateur radio licensees could not communicate with foreign countries, they also received a letter (1940) from the FCC reminding them that superfluous transmissions would not be tolerated, (“Citizenship Proof Required of All Radio Operators”; “Foreign Amateur Communication Banned”; “Warning to All Commercial Radio Operators”). The Government worked with ARRL to ban the use of all high power transmitters by amateurs except on their field day for testing (“Use of Amateur Portable Transmitters”; “Order on Amateur Portable Transmitters”). Near the beginning of the war, the FCC wrote some guidance on the “public interest” for stations (1940) banning obscenity, indecency, profanity, false signals, unidentified communications, willful interference or damage, or license forgery (“41992”).
In 1946 the FCC would release the infamous “blue book” Public Service Responsibility of Broadcast Licensees report that struck fear into broadcasters. It required them to sustain experimental programs, promote local and live programs, devote programs to the discussion of local issues, and eliminate excessive advertising or else their licenses would be subject to comparative hearings (Pickard 13; “Public Service Responsibility of Broadcast Licensees.”).
In 1940 the Mayflower Broadcasting decision would establish the “Mayflower Doctrine” that stations cannot serve the public interest while holding an editorial position. Then in 1949, the FCC would release their report In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcasting Licensees which outlined the Fairness Doctrine:
(1) That every licensee devote a reasonable portion of broadcast time to the discussion and consideration of controversial issues of public importance; and (2) that in doing so, [the broadcaster must be] fair–that is, [the broadcaster] must affirmatively endeavor to make ... facilities available for the expression of contrasting viewpoints held by responsible elements with respect to the controversial issues presented (Ruane 2).
These broad rules were not satisfied simply by granting airtime to those who requested it, broadcasters were mandated with “the affirmative duty to determine what the appropriate opposing viewpoints were on these controversial issues and who was best suited to present them” and that broadcasters must offer the time for free if necessary (The Cullman Doctrine) (Ruane 2). On the matter of positions held by the licensee, the Commission encouraged broadcasters to disclose their positions as “Certainly the public has less to fear from the open partisan than from the covert propagandist.” (“In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees” 1254). The rules set a high standard for the editorial decisionmaking of broadcasters, and the National Association of Broadcasters implemented a voluntary code of standards in the early 50s seemingly to self regulate opposing the growing body of FCC regulation (“Ethics and Television”). In 1963, the FCC would clarify with the “Cullman Doctrine” that broadcasters were obligated to grant time to the other side of an issue even if they can not pay for airtime, and by 1967 the FCC enacted the “personal attack rule” mandating broadcasters provide notification and an opportunity for response when individuals or groups are attacked on public issues (Krattenmaker & Powe 63).
There had been a moratorium placed on the issuance of television licenses in 1947 while figuring out the technical aspects of a standardized television broadcasting method, but when the ban ended in 1954, the floodgates opened to license applicants (Quinlan 3; Heldenfels 9-10). This period often called the “Golden Age” of television saw anthology drama, I Love Lucy (the first show to make reruns) and in 1954 the first color television broadcast (Martin 21; Dawn;“Catch a Glimpse”; Heldenfels 20). In the same year Murrow would destroy the credibility of the crusading Senator McCarthy, and his rebuttal which tried to disgrace Murrow would not find welcoming ears (Mirkinson).
This Golden Age would be tarnished by the Quiz Show scandal its own Payola scandal (the term came from a radio paid programming scandal), preempted by the “single sponsorship” model of programming which as a result gave way to the sponsorship model of advertising (“Quiz Show Scandals”; Minow). Newton Minow would rail against the corruption and collusion of the industry in is famous “vast wasteland” speech Television and the Public Interest (Minow). Minow. the Chair of the FCC under Kennedy, was ushered into the office disgraced by ex-parte contacts between commissioners and people in the industry. Kennedy masterfully won the 1960 election through television debates against Nixon (Watson).
The tide had already turned however, toward further television regulation, with a 1959 update to Section 315 of Title 47 that seemed to approve of the Fairness Doctrine. Red Lion Broadcasting Co v. FCC would confirm the FCC’s authority to regulate based on the fairness doctrine and would trace the history of the standard to the 1959 amendment (Ruane 3-4). In 1960 the FCC released a statement on programming which favored categories such as children’s programming, mandated that broadcasters must study the audience in their market to determine their interest, and reiterated that broadcasters have a responsibility to vet all material that they transmit (Messere 8; “Enbanc Programming Inquiry”).
The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 allowed sports leagues to sell pooled broadcast rights to television networks with protection from the Sherman Antitrust act, and added some special restriction to protect local and college football (“How JFK’s”, Sensi). The All-Channel Receiver Bill of 1962 would mandate televisions support both VHF and UHF services, due to technical advances the latter could now be received as well, but UHF stations were not successful because of low UHF TV market penetration (Longley).The FCC would clarify the criteria used in comparative hearings for broadcast licenses in 1965, and in 1978 the FCC added a preference for minority ownership along with a tax credit (“History of the Broadcast License” 12). In 1968, the FCC would enact Equal Employment Opportunity rules based on a minority candidate’s unique ability to influence programming (Krattenmaker & Powe 89). After TV-9 v. FCC ruled that the FCC shall give preference to minority candidates because their background would influence programming the policy was adjusted accordingly (Krattenmaker & Powe 90).
Community Antenna Television Systems had developed in the Postwar Era to distribute television signals to areas where reception was not possible (Greene 1371). They passed under the Copyright Act of 1909 as they were not considered performances (“Hubbard Broadcasting”). In the 60s the FCC restricted community antenna television systems from importing distant signals which duplicated the content of broadcasters when they have purchased exclusive rights, and in 1972 the FCC introduced must-carry rules to require cable companies to carry stations covering their service area but Quincy Cable TV v. FCC (1985) would overturn this rule based on the first amendment rights of cable operators (Greene 1369-1373, Lubinsky 104-5, Hobbs, Lutzker 479). Beginning in the 1966 the FCC worked to ban telephone companies from getting into the cable business and establishing monopolies over the telephone poles, it was upholded by General Telephone Co. of Southwest v. United States in 1971. These regulations would pass the test of US v. Southwestern Cable, and for the 60s and 70s local cable service was treated like a natural monopoly (Lubinsky 105-106).
HBO would launch in 1972 carrying movies and out-of-market sports games. The Copyright Revision Act of 1976 would open the door for Ted Turner’s superstation WTBS and the growth of a network via satellite (TBS Superstation). The act described cable systems as “commercial enterprises whose basic retransmission operations are based on the carriage of copyrighted program material and copyright royalties should be paid by cable operators to the creators of such programs” (“Hubbard Broadcasting”). It required cable systems to pay royalties through the government, and deferred regulation of carriage to the FCC (Gorman 878, Schaumann 651). The copyright exemption set by these royalties did not apply to companies originating their own programming or exhibiting any aspect of control over content they are retransmitting (Schaumann 652-3). Rules set by the FCC in 1972 limited the distance a signal could be imported and the number of distant signals that could be imported along with requiring cable operators to honor exclusivity licenses and granting copyright holders the right for a cable blackout up to one year after content had aired (Schaumann 649). Also included are technical, ownership, and rate regulations (Herbst et al. 12).
In 1978 FCC v. Pacifica ruled that the FCC had the ability to establish regulations on broadcasters based on the ease of access, content warnings provided, and “detrimental nature of the initial exposure” (Chaffee 19; Krattenmaker & Powe 106). Before the case was even complete, the networks and NAB had adopted FCC recommendations for a “family viewing hour” during prime time (Krattenmaker & Powe 107). The FCC moved against indecency again in 1987 by banning obscenity in broadcasts, and then later under congressional advisement and judicial pressure established the “Safe Harbor” from 6AM to midnight (Krattenmaker & Powe 110). The Children’s Television Act of 1990 mandated broadcasters air at least three hours per week of educational programs along with strict advertising restrictions, while FCC regulations mandated a “safe harbor” during daytime and evening hours when profanity could not be used (“Children’s Educational Television”; “Regulation of Obscenity”).
With the 80s and Reagan the FCC would begin to question its long held ideas on fairness, questions about constitutionality in light of the First Amendment were raised, and proponents of deregulation contended that it actually chilled free speech (Ruane 5, Krattenmaker & Powe). The predominant Chairman of the FCC under Reagan was Mark S. Fowler, who wanted to treat television like “a toaster with pictures” (Boyer). The fairness doctrine would eventually fall in 1987 after the FCC found it violated the first amendment by chilling the speech of broadcasters through overregulation (Ruane 7-8).
Sony v. Universal (1983) would rule that video tape recorders were legal to manufacture as long as there was a legitimate use for the product, and thus the home movie market was born.
The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 deregulated rate control based on “effective competition” in a given market, but soon The Cable Act of 1992 was passed (overriding President Bush’s veto) in response to a drastic rise in cable rates. It most importantly gave broadcasters the choice between a must-carry arrangement in which a cable operator is required to carry their signal, or negotiate for retransmission consent (Lubinsky 113).
Turner Broadcasting v. FCC would challenge these new retransmission rules, the first case in 1994 established that cable systems or MVPDs do have first amendment rights, while the second case upholding the legality of the legislation.
In 1994 the FCC proposed a revolutionary improvement to the historic Emergency Broadcast System that would use digital modulation, shorten the infamous “two-tone” alert signal, allow broadcasters to relay alerts autonomously, mandate that Cable operators participate, and standardize the Radio Broadcast Data System as a means to transmit emergency alerts (“In the Matter of EBS”).
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is the largest change to the FCC’s regulations since the Communications Act of 1934. The bill lifted the ban on the number of stations a company could own, deregulated cable rates, required the FCC to review their ownership rules every four years, and extended the term of licenses (“Telecommunications Act of 1996”). It also eliminated the comparative hearing process and mandated a competitive bidding procedure for all future broadcast licenses (“History of the Broadcast License” 15). Companies could finally provide bundled service of phone, cable, and internet to consumers, but a stated goal of the act was to decrease cable prices and they have nonetheless increased (Seo). Internet services were not deemed “common carriers” and as “information services” they are able to modify content (NCTA). The Digital Television Transition was intended to happen in 2006, as written in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, broadcasters would receive additional digital licenses and would have to return the analog licenses after the transition, to be auctioned off (“Telecommunications Act of 1996”).
The Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (1999) mandated Digital Broadcast Satellite operators should carry broadcast stations and in 2002 they were put under the same rules as MVPDs or cable companies (Frieden). In 2001 the FCC tentatively decided that forcing cable operators to carry both analog and digital feeds would unduly burden First Amendment Programming rights (Frieden). There was concern that portions of the public would not be able to afford a converter box or a new television in order to receive digital television, thus the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act or DTV Act of 2005 created a coupon program for converter boxes and rescheduled the transition date to February 17 2009 (“Digital TV Transition”; “The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005”). Since this program ran out of money in early 2009, President Obama signed the DTV Delay Act to delay the date of the transition until June 12, 2009 (“In the Matter of Implementation of the DTV Delay Act”; Hart). An auction of the 700MHz band following up on the DTV Act began in 2008, it would sell off frequencies vacated by ending analog simulcasting (“Auction of the 700 MHz”).
After three separate instances of fleeting expletives broadcast to large audiences, the FCC released the Golden Globe Order (2004) that declared “fleeting expletives could be actionable” (Nemet). Fox would challenge this decision in Fox I (2009) and Fox II (2012) and the court did not examine the rules based on the First Amendment, but it did vacate fines against Fox and ABC since the regulations were written after the event (Sacks; Rasmussen).
The dual tragedies of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina provided the government an initiative to improve the communications, emergency alerting, and emergency preparedness infrastructure of the nation. This prompted the Executive Order written by President Bush that ordered the government as a whole to develop an integrated warning system based on an open protocol (EO 13407).
The Fairness Doctrine was finally officially removed (2011) from the FCC’s rules, under direction from President Obama to clean up federal regulations, and this has resumed the political conversation over the standard (McKenna). With the passing of the Spectrum Act (2012) the FCC was ordered to execute an “incentive auction” allowing television licensees to receive compensation to “release some of their airwaves for mobile broadband”, this is what has developed into the sale of the 700MHz and 600MHz bands and the “repack” (Moore 2 ; Wang). The Zapple rule was revoked by the Federal Communications Commission in 2014, it had been an extension (1970) to the equal time rule to apply it to the supporters of political candidates (Oxenford).
There have been numerous major media purchases in the past couple decades including Disney’s purchase of ABC about 20 years ago, Westinghouse’s purchase of CBS and Viacom’s purchase of CBS Corporation, the 2003 merger creating NBCUniversal, the creation of the CW out of UPN and The WB, Comcast’s purchase of a majority stake of NBCUniversal in 2011, the split of News Corp. in 2013, and the proposed merger of CBS and Viacom (Arango & Stelter; Carter; Ingram; Fabrikant; Mifflin; Isidore; “Who Owns the Media”).
The FCC has proposed (2016) an alternate to the CableCARD standard which allows interoperability and consumer choice of set top boxes that would be IP based and not be beholden to a specific standard or piece of equipment, and it seems to be moving to enact the new rules before the end of the Obama administration, through many have raised concerns over copyright protection (“In the Matter of Expanding Consumers Video Navigation Choices”, Kang).
As required by the Telecommunications Act, the FCC released its Quadrennial Review of broadcast ownership rules in 2016 and the Prometheus Radio Project, a lobbying group that has experience challenging ownership regulations, has already filed challenges to the updated rules (Perzanowski, Eggerton). The order continues the ban on television and newspaper co-ownership except in cases of failing newspapers, retains restrictions on local TV ownership, and does not treat MVPDs in a market as competitors (Timmerman, “FCC”s Decision on the Quadrennial”). The FCC had instituted ownership rules in 1975 that restricted a single company from owning a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market (Gomery). The News Media Alliance also has sued the FCC on grounds that the rule banning cross-ownership of television stations and newspapers is antiquated and no longer serves the public interest (Sass).
The Industry Now
There is more content available to the public than ever before, it is more heavily segmented and targeted than ever, and users have more choice in personalizing their viewing experience, but media distrust continues to grow (Ingram; Swift). An advertisement by New York City PBS affiliate Channel THIRTEEN even capitalized on public apathy toward lowbrow reality TV programming with a series of advertisements that increased their membership 60% that year (“Channel Thirteen: TV gone wrong”). Interestingly, and EBU study of European media trust determined a majority of Western Europe holds radio as the higher accord, while fewer countries biased toward Eastern Europe prefer television, while Greece prefers the Internet (“Trust in Media 2016”). Participatory media such as Twitter, Instagram, Vine (RIP), and YouTube give the public the power to be creators in the media landscape, but the public may be coming to terms with the need for skepticism of both participatory and professional media creators (Neuberger; Jenkins). In the US, TV is king for news consumption followed by online and radio, audiences have more faith in their local affiliates than networks, and consumers see news media as bias with a correlation between strong party affiliation and perceived bias (“The Modern News Consumer”).
Audiences have become format agnostic, they do not differentiate a story formatted in a podcast, television show, or article and would likely prefer the option of consuming the story via any medium (Schreer et al.). The are thirsty for personalization, content that fits their identity that they can binge through over the top content aggregators like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu (Bothun & Vollmer). Turner has found that Netflix is now the top content network, out streaming every US television network (Precourt).
Over The Top content providers such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime and streaming video and hybrid providers such as CBS All Access, DirecTV Now, and Youtube now account for a large majority of the web’s traffic (LEK; Limelight). Premium services Over The Top video services are ubiquitous (Ooyala). Over The Top content is made for interactivity and advertising and providers have begun offering 4K live and streaming services since they are not beholden to the regulations of the FCC (Webby Awards; Balderston). The cord cutting rate depends on who you ask but the pervading report is that about 20% of households do not have cable (Pressman; Ooyala). Since broadband household penetration is expected to reach 80% in 2017 the number of OTT services is expected to rise (“OTT TV”). Local sports offerings are often not found on Over The Top services. This may be why 45% of cord cutters use over the air broadcasting for a portion of their viewing habits (Ooyala). The explosion in streaming video has put stress on cellular networks as more than half of their data traffic is streaming video (Cisco).
Online, mobile, and cross-platform ad spending has exploded in recent years and continues to rise–in 2016 it surpassed television advertising spending (“US Digital Ad Spending to Surpass TV This Year”). Many brands desire comprehensive marketing campaigns on multiple platforms so as to capitalize on “micro-moments” that initiate interest in the brand (“Micro-Moments”). Personalization invites targeted advertising or addressability, and since addressable advertising spending continues to grow and targeted audiences are worth more, broadcasters should seek to incorporate data driven programmatic advertising methods (“Programmatic TV”). Even when advertisements are part of a linear program, broadcasters now have the data to optimize their presentation in order to better retain the audience, link the brand of the advertiser with content, and increase effectiveness (“What we know about the context and positioning of TV ads”). The availability of addressable receivers has been steadily increasing and with new technologies such as ATSC 3.0 it will be possible implement over the air (Dureau; “Triveni Digital demos”). Programmatic advertising utilizes a technology platform to distribute advertisements between platforms, and addressable advertising is the targeting of advertisements based on location, and much more if it is interactive (Altitude). These tools allow advertisers to find the audience at locations and times when they will be making decisions relevant to the brand being promoted (“Programmatic Helps Brands”). Nonetheless, traditional television advertising spending continues to grow (eMarketer). Addressable and programmatic advertising provides an answer to reach audiences wherever they are, and keep them engaged with advertisements or programming through interactive, social, and bonus content (Pynta et al., Pagura et al., “What we know about combining TV with digital media”).
A so-called Golden Age masks the fragmentation of Peak TV, there are so many programs being produced for so many outlets that audiences can not keep up and thus binge, fear spoilers, and find relegated communities for discussion (Sampson). As the diversity of viewing contexts–from living rooms, busses, cafes… due to developments in technology, viewing habits become more and more difficult to track, especially given time delayed viewing (Green). Nonetheless, with new interactive technologies traditional demographic targeting may become obsolete with improved addressability and metric reporting (Doe). Networks even have the technology to test programs and advertisements with biometric measurements (He et al.).
John Landgraf the CEO of FX estimates Peak TV will continue until at least 2019, but he’s been wrong a couple times before (“State of the Broadcast Industry 2016”; Levin). Needless to say, with over 500 scripted series in production audiences are having trouble keeping up (Holloway).
Audiences are looking for better content. 4K is becoming commonplace, as are HEVC encoders, and soon quality advancements such as HDR, WCG, and HFR will become commonplace in high-end technology (Willcox, Vaughan, Zanger). There is already widespread decoding support in consumer devices (Vaughan). Content with “better pixels” has a higher dynamic range, meaning more variance in brightness, a wide color gamut, and a higher frame rate to provide more detail in the time domain (Videon, Antunes).
Location-based technology, augmented reality, and virtual reality all promise to change the face of content. Pokémon GO has successfully introduced the American audience to a location-based augmented reality game, and it remains to be seen how these new formats will be utilized by creators (“Trend Snapshot: Pokémon GO”). Pokémon GO merged a successful brand with a new technology, and retailers have been looking to tie their brand to the game with in game content (Hamill; “Retailers tap Pokémon GO”).
The audience is ready for VR, AR, and a dramatic increase in video quality, and technology is about to mature (Sola). HEVC promises to dramatically lower video bitrates allowing for higher quality content over the same connection and it already supports 3D and transparency (Sullivan et al.). ATSC 3.0 will be able to support the broadcasting of augmented and virtual reality content by future extension, while it currently supports stereoscopic 3D and interactive content via HTML5 (Pizzi; A/341). The production industry is working to prepare itself to produce these new formats (Niamut).
Finally, advances in production and distribution technology are opening the door for higher resolutions such as 8K and “Immersive Audio” that provides the audience a customizable experience rendered for their speaker arrangement (Mullen; Pizzi). While 4K is four times HD, 8K is four times the resolution of 4K. Each of these resolution increases is accompanied by a large increase in bitrate, while the increase in bitrate associated with “better pixels” is comparatively minimal (Pizzi). A critical factor in the use of “better pixels” is the use of 10-bit quantification, rather than 8-bit which is commonplace and can cause banding (Pizzi, Rtings). The 2016 Rio Olympics were the greatest showcase to date of broadcast technology. NHK and the BBC tested a Super Hi-Vision transmission to certain sites and NBC offered 4K content on-demand (Zubrzycki; Goode & Kane)
The ATSC 3 Stack
The Advanced Television Systems Committee is the standards body of the television industry and it has developed standards pertaining to the transmission of digital television (Fay 1). The ATSC was formed in 1982, the standard was adopted by the FCC in 1996, and analog broadcasting ended for the most part on June 12 2009 (“About ATSC”; “In the matter of Advanced Television Systems”; “Digital Television”). Development of a second generation, backward compatible, interactive standard that could serve mobile devices culminated in the ATSC M/H standard which covers 57% of the US but sees little adoption (Jessell). The ATSC began exploring usage scenarios for a new standard since 2010 and at this time is approving Candidate Standards for ATSC 3.0 (“ATSC progress report” 1, McAdams). The standard will not be backward compatible but it will provide an extendable, efficient, and interactive medium for broadcasters (A/322 1). It brings with it the tools to provide the public a greater public service through its capabilities and integration with other systems.
The next generation digital television standard uses ODFM modulation, it was considered for use in ATSC 1.0 or DTV but while every other digital television standard chose OFDM, 8-VSB was chosen for DTV. (Comark). From Sinclair’s testing in Baltimore in 1999, 8VSB outperformed ODFM in reception and bandwidth, but OFDM shined in mobile reception. With advances in technology ATSC 3’s use of OFDM can outperform 8-VSB in carrier to noise ratio and data rate (“DTV Report”; “OTA Reception Comparison”). Some configurations of ATSC 3.0 are intended to function at speeds up to 180 miles per hour which makes reception possible on high speed trains (Comark 9). WI9X3Y has been set up as an ATSC 3.0 transmitter in Cleveland for physical layer testing using Channel 31 at an ERP of 430 kW (“OTA Reception Comparison”; “NAB ATSC3”). On its first day it transmitted a 4K HDR documentary and WRAL’s noon newscast (WRAL). WRAL was also the first station to begin transmitting in Digital Television, twenty years ago (Butts).
In Madison, WKOW offers their facilities to the Futurecast team which is carrying out both of these tests on air in their red eye hours. The tests show that ATSC 3 outperforms DTV by 36% based spectrum efficiency. This means that under certain noise and interference conditions and in a given channel width, ATSC 3 will outperform DTV by 36% in data-rate (Luplow). Hitachi Kokusai Electric Comark LLC claims a 20% increase in effective rated power with ATSC 3.0 using their transmitters compared to an 8-VSB transmission which is impressive since in 1999 Sinclair found OFDM to be less efficient per watt (Comark; “DTV Report”).
WJW brought Cleveland the 2016 World Series via WI9X3Y, now licensed by the National Association of Broadcasters (“ATSC 3.0 Makes”; “Next Gen TV Station”). Few were watching with tests on a Single Frequency Network in Baltimore, we’ll soon have a multitude of data points to review when the standard is complete (Fritz). By the way, ATSC 3 was tested in Korea in 2015 with reception of HD video from a vehicle while the station was also transmitting UHD video (Hawkes; Kurz; “SBS, LG”).
The physical layer of the standard encompasses how it uses the radio spectrum. It utilizes OFDM multiplexing of quadrature amplitude modulation, in sizes up to 4096 QAM (A/322 42). What this means is that within the 6 megahertz channel, up to 64 individual signals may exist and they will be spaced so their harmonics do not interfere, and in fact cancel (Earnshaw, “PHY Basics”). The system actually uses COFDM which uses Error Correction Codes to increase signal reliability, it can use up to 13/15ths of its data for error correction (Earnshaw; Fay 2). At its most robust, ATSC can operate 6.2dB below the noise level (Fay 2). The ATSC 3.0 standard includes language for a Future Extension Layer in addition to the existing Upper and Lower layers, and in Cleveland tests of three layers showed one could outperform ATSC M/H, one could perform ATSC VSB, and the robust layer could go where analog has never reached (Luplow). While ATSC outperforms NTSC analog broadcasting by 12-15 dB, ATSC 3 outperforms the current standard by at least 3 dB (Krauss; ITU).
Since ATSC 3 has a multitude of transmission modes, there won’t be a single level but rather a curve based on the FCC’s definition of the noise floor (Krauss; “ATSC 3.0 Where”). Through Layer Division Multiplexing, the technology is able to transmit multiple independently receivable signals in the same channel, one at a robust low bitrate setting and others at higher bitrates (A322 48). Outside of the data payload, the signal includes an extremely robust (-10dB SNR reception) “Bootstrap” and a robust “Preamble” (Richer). Each group of a Bootstrap, Preamble, and Payload constitutes a “Frame”, the parameters of which are specified in the Bootstrap and Preamble. Included in the Bootstrap is the the version of the standard, an “EAS Wake Up bit”, the bandwidth of the channel, and the structure of the Preamble. The Bootstrap contains everything necessary to decode the Preamble, while the Preamble provides all the necessary information to decode the Payload of the Frame (Fay). The frames of the Link Layer are divided into subframes and may contain multiple physical layer pipes each, with a combination of layer division multiplexing and typical time and frequency division multiplexing (Earnshaw). This means the “Exciter” which is a physical piece of hardware converting an IP data stream to an RF signal has the ability to slice up the signal by frequency, time, and layer through novel Layered Division Multiplexing that nests a complex signal within a simpler signal to provide for example; both mobile and fixed reception (Comark).
The Link Layer is the way the data is structured before it is encoded for the physical layer, the link layer uses unidirectional UDP internet protocol, though it has contingency to carry an MPEG-2 Transport Stream (Earnshaw). ATSC 3 allows a receiver to use either broadband or broadcast IP networks, or a combination of the two to provide an interactive service with low bitrate requirements (A/330 6). What this means is that in rural areas with excess spectrum but no wiring, it may be possible to provide widespread interactive television service. Broadcasters may be able to poll receivers for signal information, raising the question of whether location data could be included to provide a coverage survey (“Layered Division Multiplexing”). The standard ISOBMFF is used for encapsulation of streaming content and broadcasting it utilizes MPEG Media Transport Protocol or MPEG-DASH, while DASH is used for broadband streaming content and broadcast non-real time content (Lo 2-6, Xu et al. 47).
The Application Layer of ATSC is based on current and emerging standards; HTML5, HEVC, MPEG-H Audio, and Dolby AC-4 Audio (Pizzi). It is meant to be interactive, meaning some content must be rendered in the receiver and broadcasters will need to program in accordance with emerging regulations from Consumer Technology Association (“Television Data Standards”). Each service may have a visual runtime environment based on HTML5, but it also may just have video, audio, or data (Pizzi). Television isn’t the only use for the standard–connected cars, digital signage, and data broadcasting services are possible (Redmond).
The video encoding standard used in ATSC 3 is being developed by MPEG and ITU-T and it is called High Efficiency Video Coding or H.265. It uses a much more complex encoding method that produces images that have more detail with a given bitrate, but is multiple times more complex to decode and ~10 times more complex to encode (Ozer). The candidate ATSC standard A/341 supports “better pixels”, a multiview extension, and Scalable Video Coding (A/341 V). The multiview extension can support changeable camera feeds, panoramic video, and stereoscopic 3D (GatesAir). Scalable Video Coding was introduced in the predecessor to HEVC, H.264 or AVC, and it allows a Base Layer which is decoded by every receiver to be augmented with an increase in quality from Enhancement Layers which are decoded by more powerful receivers (Schwartz et al.; Richer). This method of dividing the signal lends itself to ATSC 3’s implementation of multiple physical level pipes. Mobile receivers could decode a 1080P60 signal and fixed receivers could get UHD service (Richer; Comark 5). HEVC will be the first encoding standard to be debuted with devices already in operation (Ozer, Wilhite). The only problem is assembling a license scheme similar to that which AVC used through the organization MPEG LA (Vaughan). All in all, the group of new visual technologies included in ATSC 3 will provide viewers far greater visuals with much greater efficiency in regards to bitrate (Hanhart et al.; Thiow et al.).
The standard supports two codecs for encoding of multichannel and object-based immersive audio; Dolby AC-4, and MPEG-H. Both codecs promise bitrate savings compared to current codecs, the ability to contour the mix of dialogue, effects, and other audio sources to the listening environment, and an immersive experience that can be rendered by receivers for any stereo or surround sound format. They also allow the ability to personalize the mix of effects and dialogue, the dynamic range contouring, and provide the tools to standardize loudness (A/342; Starzynski; Pizzi).
Other personalization features in the standard include the ability to target advertising using localized ad insertion, provide controls of interactive applications, and it is assumed that manufacturers will build a preference whether to wake up to emergency alerts (Pizzi). The interactive features are based off HbbTV 2.0, which is quickly becoming the global standard for interactive television (Richer; HbbTV). Other iterations of the standard implement a “Red Button” on the remote control to access interactive content, and given the security concerns inherent with connecting an RF medium, which is inherently susceptible to interference and jamming, to interactive services, those services should only be enabled after user interaction (Oren & Keromytis, “BBC Red”).
ATSC 3.0 has a robust security suite, but broadcasters should do their own audits (A/360). Changes in technology should invite skepticism based on security, reliance, and trustworthiness. The first iteration of HbbTV was the first television standard to merge the broadcast and IP network realms, and with it it brought glaring safety concerns (Oren & Keromytis). HbbTV 2.0 and ATSC 3 both include both security and licensing methods so that the interactive experience may not be compromised and content can be sold on a subscription or pay per view basis (HbbTV, A/360).
Companion devices will connect to the broadcast or broadband receiver via a multicast protocol similar to Bonjour (A/338). An interesting product that LG has presented is a broadcast receiver that couples as a network router that can provide the devices an ATSC 3 signal via multicast over the home network (“LG Electronics”). It may also be possible to provide a service similar to what Jackbox.tv games use to initiate connections when devices are not on the same network, via a uniquely generated pin. It’s foreseeable that companion devices will provide statistics for sports, maps for emergencies, and the ability to share links to video clips on social media (Pizzi). In rural areas without broadband to carry the interactive responses, it’s possible that a bidirectional service could be developed sense spectrum bandwidth is abundant (He et al.).
ATSC 3 was developed to use state-of-the-art standards in the most efficient way possible. From HTML5, to DASH, to MMT, to HbbTV, to HEVC, to AC-4, to COFDM, ATSC 3 builds on an extensive suite of technologies which represent a maturation of the omnipresent IP protocol. It will compete with the LTE technology eMBMS, which can multicast content based on how many users in each cell request the content. It’s likely possible that cellular service providers could relay a DASH format stream from a broadcast station, or even roll out their own MVPD services (“LTE eMBMS”). The advantage of utilizing ATSC 3 in addition to LTE technologies is the ability use both simultaneously ATSC 3 and allows the reception of sparse single cell transmitter which is not supported by LTE but is the standard for TV (Fay).
When a travelling device leaves the coverage area of either the upper layer or lower layer of an ATSC 3 signal, it should provide the user a graceful degradation, which prompts the viewer either to stream using cellular or wifi data, switch to a signal on the lower layer, or possibly even switch to another affiliate of the same network should their contours overlap. Cable and satellite viewers with compatible televisions will not be left out; the ATSC has incorporated robust video and audio watermarking to act as an entry point to the interactive and broadband service (A/334; A/335; A/336; Pizzi). The audio watermark is an unnoticeable filter applied to the audio tracks that can stand multiple generations of compression, it’s similar to current Nielsen watermarking (A/334). The video watermark is a visible bar one or two pixels in height along the top of the screen which is visible on monitors that are configured without overscan (A/335). NAB Pilot has described a means of audience measurement by broadcasters using the interactive return channel (Kurz, A/333).
ATSC 3, on face-value comparison with ATSC M/H may look like an unnecessary rewrite of a 20 year old standard, but try to search online for an ATSC M/H antenna that could fit in a phone. With nearly a 5dB advantage over ATSC M/H, ATSC 3 can receive a weaker signal or carry more data and it utilizes HEVC which is nearly twice as efficient (“OTA Reception”; Ohm et al.). While ATSC M/H also included support for Single Frequency Networks, which use multiple synchronized transmitters to increase coverage, it does not support Channel Bonding or MIMO. Both could nearly double the bitrate of the channel by either using the opposite polarity or a second channel (Fay 2).
It’s unlikely that Channel Bonding will see use in the United States, as there isn’t even enough spare spectrum left after the auction of the 700MHz band to allow stations to transition to ATSC 3 by simulcasting the way they did with DTV. The “single stick” or “lighthouse” method may provide a graceful means to upgrade that exploits the Program and System Information Protocol. Stations within each market would work together to transition a single station to ATSC 3, their program channels would be distributed between their competitors and would show up to DTV customers the same way after a channel scan, and each station would put their channels on the ATSC 3 “lighthouse”. Broadcasters should be mindful that the peak power requirements of ATSC 3 are higher than 8VSB, though the average power is lower, and this should be a consideration when buying equipment during the repack (GatesAir).
Much of the industry has already provided the FCC its endorsement of the standard and Korea has already adopted the work-in-progress standard (“Reply Comments of CTIA”; “Comments of AFCCE”, McAdams). In order to not burden MVPDs which are cable or digital broadcast satellite companies, NAB and others recommend that MVPD carriage of ATSC 3 signals be optional (McFadden). The AWARN alliance has provided a compelling endorsement of the standard based on its emergency warning ability to wake up devices and transmit multimedia information over a broadcast medium (“Comments of the AWARN Alliance”). NAB in its filing contends that DISH Network and the American Cable Association are endeavouring to slow or thwart the process of ATSC 3 and its ratification as a standard by the FCC (“Reply Comments of the American”). An endorsement from America’s Public Television Stations theorizes an educational service, need based services for legislative proceedings and political campaigns, and ancillary revenue based opportunities such as datacasting (“Public Television and Next Generation”). The concerns of the American Cable Association over a transition to ATSC 3 include “must-carry” requirements and the costs of the hardware necessary to receive and convert it for their networks, along with the cost to adjust the receiving hardware (American Cable Association). Whether in support or apprehensive, the industry is attentive to ATSC 3 and has its battle plans (APTS, AWARN, CTA, NAB Comments).
As there were complaints after the Digital Television Transition in 2009 of a loss of coverage with DTV rather than Analog, affected stations will likely configure their signals to restore or enhance their coverage contours (“Digital Television”). A likely configuration for most stations is an upper level signal at 25mbps that provides an analogous coverage pattern to DTV with 1dB greater performance, and a lower level signal that is tuned to the market and could provide for example: a 5mbps service that reaches indoors and covers harsh terrain (Schadler). The bootstrap signaling would reach far beyond the coverage area of the lower layer signal, with a 10 dB advantage in required C/N ratio (Lung). Because of the efficiencies associated with HEVC, a high quality 1080p60 stream can fit in 4mbps while at 4K 10 bit HEVC can produce a good quality stream at 18mbps and this allows numerous subchannels (Tan et al., Simon). While Scalable Video Coding would provide an efficiency when simulcasting an HD and UHD stream, ATSC 3.0 does not allow scalability of the dynamic range or color gamut (A/341). Until receivers powerful enough for this process become available broadcasters will likely not utilize SHVC unless they are offering non-HDR 4K content. AC-4 encoding can provide immersive audio in multiple languages with accessibility channels and associated metadata at 384kbps, which means that for the primary stream the lower layer could carry about half a megabit of data for interactive services, but this could be increased when the EAS is activated in order to transmit maps. Each subchannel in the upper layer would have its own audio stream, but the bitrate would be accordingly low for stereo (Chernock). With adaptive bitrate scheduling, stations could use periods when the subchannels are inactive or easily compressible to increase the bitrate of data broadcasting services (Comark).
The Public’s Pinnacle Interest
Having read this far, it’s assumed that you know and are familiar with the “alarming”, “archaic”, and outdated warning message carried by the Emergency Alert System. Established in 1951 as CONELRAD and then in 1963 as the Emergency Broadcast System, the Emergency Alert System was approved by the FCC in 1994 (FCC 1994). The main goal of the Emergency Alert System was to replace the “daisy chain” by which stations would monitor FEMA designated stations and relay alerts based on a “two-tone signal”, which, established in 1976 to provide analog signaling, only serves as a means to attract attention since the data in the EAS signal is carried digitally by the message proceeding it (FCC 1994). The “two tone signal” has been known to strike fear, anxiety, and nostalgia in viewers while the inability of the EAS to carry video means that use of the EAS may be preempted if the networks have already entered coverage of an event such as 9/11 (Mersereau). The EAS did not live up to its expectations of creating a web of signaling, since stations were only required to monitor two other stations, and it uses “in-band” signaling which interrupts programming. It also could not reach the expectation set based on the Radio Broadcast Data Service, thought to be able to wake up devices, but it did require most MVPDs to carry video and audio messages on every channel and provide special alerting devices to the disabled (FCC 1994).
The Red River Valley in North Dakota is vulnerable to flooding, to say the least, and on two separate occasions in 1997 and 2009 residents used vastly different platforms for communication. In 1997 AM radio stations acted as the primary source of information for residents building dikes, displaced residents, and the uninformed (Sellnow). In 2009, influencers with experience from the 1997 flood and others provided information on efforts and the river level through emotional messages on Twitter that informed those downstream (Palen et al.; Starbird et al.). This event illustrates the interconnectedness that has grown to define crisis communication along with the developing paradigm of participatory communication (Neuberger).
The stage had been set for a digital system that would be implemented soon before the DTV Transition, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina President Bush would sign (2006) Executive Order 13407, which lays out the system built around a common alerting protocol with targeting ability by location. The system is built around the Common Alerting Protocol and is called the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System or IPAWS. It incorporates an XML-based protocol which is carried by robust and redundant IP networks, aggregated, and signals the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, Emergency Alert System, NOAA Weather Radio, NPR, XM Sirius Radio, unique local technologies like signs, and any device that uses IPAWS-OPEN over the internet (“IPAWS 101”, Moore).
After the bombings in New York and New Jersey (2016) a location-specific alert was sent to Chelsea, and from all accounts it seems to have been an amazing demonstration of the ability of IPAWS to target geographically (Waddell). IPAWS has activated mobile phones in Boston after the Marathon Bombing, “showed up where and when they mattered” for Hurricane Sandy, but emergency signals can cause complacency or worse if used carelessly (“IPAWS 101”). An alert was sent to the city of New York at 8AM two days after the bombing with WANTED as its title, a name, and a request to “See media for pic.” Brian Feldman of NYMAG explains why this message is problematic:
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs for short), are to be used, according to the FCC, in three cases: Amber Alerts, alerts from the president, and alerts involving imminent threats to safety.
This alert serves none of those purposes. It even acknowledges its own shortcomings: “See media for pic” is a stilted way of saying “Um, Google it.” It provides no useful contextual information, warns of no imminent danger. It essentially deputizes the five boroughs and encourages people to treat anyone who looks like he might be named “Ahmad Khan Rahami” with suspicion. In a country where people are routinely harassed and assaulted for just appearing to be Muslim, this is remarkably ill-advised. (Feldman)
Broadcasters cannot serve the public interest merely by relaying messages, they must inform the public of how to understand these messages, what to do should their devices stop working, and provide localized emergency preparedness programming. Stations should also endeavour to be redundant in their operations and have a robust contingency plan to stay on the air, despite any natural or deliberate disaster. Finally, media creators need to act their part in ensuring emergency messages are taken seriously by the public by not incorporating signals or mock ups in their product. The onus is on the Standards and Practices of individual stations or networks to ensure that they are serving the public interest with their programming and to catch any mistakes by creators (Johnson, Kirby). Broadcasters should also hold themselves and their product vendors responsible for the security of their EAS operation, with IPAWS alerts being transmitted over the internet the machines are a target for shenanigans or worse (Zetter).
The Bootstrap and robust modulation used in ATSC 3 allows smaller devices to successfully receive the signal. Areas that were never touched by a station’s analog transmission may see an ATSC 3.0 signal, even if just the Bootstrap which can indicate emergency alerts (Earnshaw, “OTA Reception”). Since the receiver knows when each bootstrap should be coming for a given channel, it can only turn on for the time necessary to decode it and can thus sip power. Identifying channels to monitor should be easy for the device to do automatically, but it will have to wait until the next frame. Frames can be seconds long, but TV Technology speculates broadcasters will use a smaller one such as 250ms to minimize the time required to tune the channel (Lung). It’s theorized that the reliable, efficient, and interactive AWARN system could be used to provide maps and early warning of earthquakes (“Comments of the AWARN Alliance”). ATSC 3 has the technology to deliver CAP alerts in numerous ways; through XML file datacasting, through typical program insertion, and with interactive applications that could include maps, guides, and lists of persons, allowing anything with an ATSC 3 receiver to utilize the alert. This includes accessibility equipment, signs, mobile operating systems, car radios, etc. (Adrick).
Finally these technologies must be personalizable–the WARN Act directs carriers to allow customers to disable local and statewide alerts, but does not allow them to disable presidential alerts (“Wireless Emergency Alerts”). The Presidential Level alert has never been triggered, but even before the introduction of the Emergency Alert System, CONELRAD and the EBS saw over 20,00 uses (FCC 1994). The 2011 national test of the Emergency Alert System brought up many problems including being PEP stations with malfunctioning hardware, 18% of EAS decoders failing to receive the message, and at the National Primary level there were two data headers transmitted which caused a feedback loop and widespread audio issues. Also, stations in areas without PEP Stations were assigned to monitor an FM NPR station that received messages over the NPR Squawk, but the audio quality was too poor to decode the alert and Oregon Public Broadcasting rejected the Washington DC code used for the test (“Strengthening the”). A National Code for IPAWS was thus created, “000000”, and it tested successfully in 2016 (“The Next Nationwide”; Mclane).
Leading the Pace of Change
Broadcasters are faced with a time of change, they may have structural inertia due to their size, longevity, or market position so special care must be taken to ease transitions; especially when they occur during normal operations (Hannan, Gillespie & Mann). Inherent in mixed media production is the necessity to have multiple disciplines working on each product. A diversity of information has been shown to increase team performance, but diverse teams are more difficult to work in because of the lack of shared understanding. Research suggests that teams function better because of the difficulty in communication, and that they may gain satisfaction from doing so (Rock et al., Jehn et al, “Better Decisions”). The problematic decision-making phenomenon groupthink, which is the combination of compliance and internalization can be preempted by a diversity of information and backgrounds resulting in conflict (Esser; Rose). Jehn et al. recommends organizations seek candidates with a great diversity of information backgrounds, but strong congruence with organizational values (Jehn 758). Sethi et al. round that individuals’ ability to subordinate their identity for that of the team, their openness to risk taking, and receptiveness to feedback was correlated with innovativeness while social cohesion, which would be inherent in a culture fit, had a negative effect (Lewis). It’s not as easy as hiring a diverse range of people, the stage needs to be set for them to contribute ideas, for the group to subordinate their personal identities in order to build cohesion, and this can often be in the form of cultivating a team that is diverse in tenure (Mannix & Neale 43-45).
Broadcasters should seek to serve the public interest by representing the demographics of the area they serve (“Charting” 110). According to the Annenberg Report, each form of media studied including broadcast, film, cable, and streaming represented demographics accurately in less than one third of stories and according to the 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report, diversity in the media has been improving but still does not represent the audience. In “Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work” says Lauren A. Rivera in an opinion piece for the NYT Sunday Review, as a researcher at the Kellogg School of Management she found that by hiring for culture fit based on personal similarity, class-biased definitions of fit, and stereotypes of masculinity organizations were creating racial and sex biases (“Guess who”, Rivera 1017). She advocates communicating clearly the culture of the organization, basing hiring criteria on “data-driven analysis of what types of values, traits, and behaviours actually predict on-the-job success”, and using “structured interviews that systematically test behaviours associated with increased performance and employee retention” assessed by formal procedures (“Guess who”). Group interviews that are structured to test applicants ability to work with other applicants for various positions provide an effective environment for evaluating individual values (Lewis). By separating interviews to focus on skills and values individually, candidates with the raw talent Kevin Spacey describes in his MacTaggart lecture can be discovered (Lewis, Spacey). Organizational or individual values can be thought of as having four types: core values which are deeply ingrained and guide every action, aspirational values which provide a goal, permission-to-play values which are often common to an industry, and accidental values are the ebb and flow trends that can lead to hiring bias (Lencioni). Other studies have evidenced through the use of “whitened resumes” that some organizations discriminate based simply on the name and identifying background of applicants (Kang et al.).
Hiring isn’t the whole story however, in addition to bias in hiring, bias in promotion and hostile work climates can disadvantage minority and marginalized groups (Bond & Haynes). Organizations should focus on the cumulative impact of problematic patterns in addition to blatant discrimination, and executives should be held accountable for poor modeling activities (Bond & Haynes). For example, women are more often interrupted in interpersonal communications, such as Google Chairman Eric Schmidt repeatedly interrupting a female former executive while on a panel at South by Southwest, or Adult Swim’s overt problems (Peck, Alexander). The tide has turned, however, for individuals with disabilities. Since Wired published The Geek Syndrome in 2001, Walgreen’s, Hershey Co, and AMC Entertainment have begun recruiting workers with various disabilities (Smialek; Silberman).
To meet the needs of next generation interactive production technologies, networked distribution technologies, and a rapidly increasing flow of content, organizations will have to maintain an agile, skillful, and dedicated workforce. There is widespread agreement that the American public is not being adequately developed before entering the workforce, and thus they lack the attitude, skills, and experience required to be successful (Cappelli, “Bridging the Skills”). There is certainly a workforce available, since 7.9 million people are out of work and 5.4 million jobs are open nationally, but organizations may not be willing to invest in developing workers (“The Employment Situation”). Additionally, the New York Times Editorial Board’s analysis is that “employers may be posting openings, but they are not trying all that hard to fill them, say by increasing job ads or offering better pay packages” (“Don’t Blame the Work Force”). To cement a source of talent organizations should seek to create partnerships with schools, cultural organizations, and others who share the organization’s values (Finegold et al.; “Bridge The Gap”; Seldon & Milway). Through internship, apprenticeship, mentoring, and peer learning individuals can take an initiative for their own learning with the assistance of others, and in the process gain their support, guidance, and assistance.
While unpaid internships can be a means for organizations to exploit desperate jobseekers, productive internships can be a beneficial learning experience for the student and in the author’s personal experience, a means to inspire mentoring and learning activities in experienced employees (Magaldi & Kolisnyk). Critical workplace regulations such as the Civil Rights Act, the ADA, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act do not apply to unpaid internships, they deepen socioeconomic gaps, and these conditions should be an ethical call for the end of their use (Magaldi & Kolisnyk). It also disadvantages those who can not afford to work for free, often in addition to paying for the internship credits (Rivera; Magaldi & Kolisnyk).
Apprenticeships provide an entry level work opportunity with a focus on personal development, throughout the process of cognitive apprenticeship developed by Collins et al. apprentices can learn complex and abstract tasks through modeling, scaffolding, and collaboration on individual goals. This type of teaching arrangement is conducive to the development of skills such as video editing, technical writing, and many other multifaceted disciplines with a breadth of associated theory (“Cognitive Apprenticeship”).
Mentoring is an activity that can provide professional and learning opportunities to mentors and protogés alike. Organizations where women and minorities find mentors invite them to reach management, and a network of mentors can provide even more diverse learning experiences (Dobbin & Kalev; Higgins & Kram). Mentors provide professional and psychosocial support along with role modeling, and can especially help with the process of developing a work life balance (Nielson et al.; Troy et al.). Peer relationships function similarly to mentoring relationships but serve to share information, foster friendships, and tune to job specific feedback (Kram & Isabella). Such learning relationships can influence organizational culture. Cultures that support risk taking, change, and provide resources to their members have a competitive advantage in innovation and creativity, but this does not obviate strategy (Sarros et al.)
Finally by optimizing the workflow and workplace for employees, organizations make an investment in their motivation, efficiency, and productivity. Workflow management is the process of segmenting a process and exploiting repetition, it enables repeatable outcomes and high volume (Georgakopoulos & Hornick). Workflows can be automated, but with automation comes the risk of complacency, error, and operator skill loss. Parasuraman, Sheridan, and Wickens published a groundbreaking framework for the intelligent deployment of automation with respect for quality control and personnel for the IEEE in 2000 and it is a worth a read for every broadcast engineer. Safe workplaces are related to both the knowledge of and motivation to engage in safe behaviours, along with organizational preparations (Christian et al.; “Commit to Preparedness”).
Types of Television Regulation
Broadcasting is an incredibly multifaceted field, thus regulation must be general, extendable, and applicable. The Government regulates the electromagnetic spectrum based on grounds of scarcity. Technical regulations allow us all to share the spectrum with a minimum of interference, buy standard receivers without worrying about compatibility, and hopefully give the public some semblance of faith in the responsibility of broadcasters. While the development of new technologies may be an impressive feat, the regulation of technology may in reality be the easiest part of the regulatory process due to its tangibility. A reasonable ideal for technical standards is to be efficient, extendable, and reliable.
The noise floor has been rising due to man-made noise and this poses problems for broadcasters, users of wireless communication devices, and the public as a whole (ARRL). Natural RF noise is a given but man made RF noise comes from a mix of intentional emitters such as power lines and electric motors and poorly made products which become unintentional emitters (King). The American Radio Relay League, Society of Broadcast Engineers, National Association of Broadcasters, and IEEE Broadcast Technology Society are all promoting the issue or petitioning the FCC. They ask that the FCC enforce Title 47 Part 15 emission limits on unintentional and incidental radiators that cause harmful interference to a licensed radio service (47 C.F.R; King). AT&T charges that lighting manufacturers specifically are disregarding noise concerns due to the high cost of adding filtering products, though these emittances can travel and propagate through the power lines they are connected to (King). The industry calls for the FCC to be hawkish with their regulations related to the noise floor, for Congress to expand Title 47 Part 15 and 18 regulations, and for a “suite of noise measurement equipment capable of monitoring noise in the DC to 70 GHz with web access” to be implemented across the country (King). The industry itself is in a position to deploy this monitoring equipment on their transmitters and provide the data publically in a way similar to Satsignature.us, but the bigger problem is poor manufacturing which can increase the noise level 20dB to 30dB indoors, and many devices radiate even when “off” (Johnston). This problem illustrates the need for a Federal Communications Commission with regulations over the radio frequency spectrum, despite what members of President-Elect Trump’s “tech policy transition team” may think (Fung).
Ownership regulations endeavour to prevent the conglomeration and eventual control of media sources by private entities, influence by foreign entities, and monopolies (“2016 Quadrennial”). The FCC specifically puts a ban on a merger between the major networks, they bans the ownership of a station license by someone who distributes a newspaper in the same market, and they also ban the ownership of two stations with overlapping contours in most markets (“FCC’s Review”). Stations that are coordinates with newspapers have been shown to provide more news content (Milyo). With the conglomeration of diverse media formats and shifts in viewing habits causing declines in revenue in the newspaper industry, this rule has quickly become antiquated (“State of the News Media 2016”). There will be a desire for the newsrooms of newspapers and broadcasters to merge, and the issue will hopefully be brought to Congress. A sticking point will be whether a small group of large entities provide a greater public service than an assortment of smaller entities. Equal Employment Opportunity regulations stand to require broadcasters to reach out publically when advertising job positions and to consider applicants fairly (“EEO”).
No entity can own television stations that reach more than 39% of households, and the FCC has eliminated the “UHF Discount” because of advances in technology (“FCC’s Review”, “Amendment of Section 73.3555(e)”). The Sports Broadcasting Act (1961) stands to deregulate the broadcasting of national league sports games, allowing them to pool their leagues and this seems to be an efficient system that allows experienced teams to follow a circuit and produce quality programs (Sensi, Mitten & Hernandez).
Advertising rules seek to provide audiences with advertisements that are properly acknowledged as such and protect children who can not readily identify advertisements (“Advertising”; “Children’s Educational Television”). A recent study shows that older children, and even college-age students, underperform when evaluating the integrity, and motivation of multimedia content, and most middle schoolers cannot distinguish “Sponsored Content” advertisements (“Evaluating Information” 10). All is not lost however, Sesame Street and Massive Open Online Courses provide a template for educating the public through television and media (Kearney & Levine). Advertisements aren’t the only way stations make revenue with their spectrum; broadcasters can datacast, charge or premium or on demand content, and negotiate retransmission consent deals with MVPDs (“Alternate Sources”).
With the Citizens United decision that political spending is protected under the First Amendment, the floodgates of corporate money has entered the political rhetorical arena (Levy). Newton Minow compares the current arrangement of political advertising with a courtroom testimony (while Bernie Sanders calls it “disastrous”) :
It is simply unconscionable that candidates for public office have to buy access to the airwaves—something the public itself owns—to talk to the public, unlike in most other major democratic countries. The U.S. Supreme Court has moved aggressively over the past decade to overturn congressional action to reform campaign finance. I believe the Court is wrong in thinking that money is speech and speech is money. A lawyer arguing a case before the Court is allowed 30 minutes for oral argument. The Supreme Court would laugh if a lawyer who wants more than 30 minutes went to the court clerk’s office to buy it. Put simply, candidates for public office have to raise huge amounts of money to buy access to the public airwaves so they can talk to us. And because airtime is so expensive, they talk to us in slogans and slurs, and only obliquely, if at all, about substance (Minow).
Citizens United is the latest deregulation which threatens the function and trust of the American Media (Oxenford). The FCC is left with the indecency and equal-time rules after a string of deregulation since the early 1980s (“Statutes and Rules”; “Regulation of Obscenity”). As broadcasters utilize online distribution more, they should become concerned with Net Neutrality which upholds the uninhibited exchange of ideas on the internet (Whitehouse.gov).
In order for broadcasters and the media to regain the trust we must serve their needs, interest, and convenience. When examined given Maslow’s hierarchical model of needs, the audience needs a system that they can access, that will keep them safe, that will inform them, that will entertain them, and will give them a forum for discourse and self-reflection (Maslow; Urwiler & Frolick). ATSC 3.0 provides an extendable standard that has an impressive capacity and a more impressive ability to interoperate with standardized systems.
Broadcasters should rebrand themselves by renewing their internal culture and external image around the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which provides a format agnostic editorial doctrine. Thus, they should brand their stations based on how they address the specific programming needs of their community, which they of course study and assess (Muzellec & Lambkin, SPJ). Stations should endeavour to provide their localities comprehensive public-affairs programming and to study their needs (“Charting” 90). When algorithmic content curation is used the ethical and informational implications of the algorithm should be assessed, so as not to create “echo chambers” (Helberger; Colleoni).
Through emergency preparedness programming, robust emergency alerting, and diligent reporting of information in an emergency broadcasters can regain the trust of the public in times of need (Althaus). Obviously a robust organization and facility is paramount in serving the public interest in times of emergency. Even when emergency management officials fail to inform the public, such as during the December Tennessee Wildfires, broadcasters should be ready to provide the information their audiences need to stay safe (Hickman).
Given the opportunity, broadcasters should explore diverse revenue sources such as addressable advertising sales, datacasting, and subscription or pay-per-view content. Organizations should develop themselves so they can readily handle environmental changes in the industry and refocus on the cultivation of a masterful workforce. They should build ties with other organizations that have been shown to pipeline candidates that meet data driven measurements that predict on the job performance. Organizations which hold their values, goals, and standards dear and develop a culture based on learning through internship, apprenticeship, mentoring, and from peers will produce the innovative format agnostic content of the future. Creators should produce in HTML5 at the highest quality and should develop their programs mindful of the capabilities of home receivers and the needs of the disabled (“Second Report on Video Programming Accessibility”). Producers should archive their programs to prevent historical loss as can be seen with the destruction of tape libraries, low bitrate HEVC offers an extremely compact option.
Media distributors should be careful to respect the privacy of their customers, ask for their preferences, and maintain security throughout their product. They should use the open standards MPEG DASH and HEVC for their online content and should support the use of interactive, high resolution, high quality content in all of their channels.
ATSC 3.1 should support SHVC 3D enhancement layers for virtual reality, along with SHVC expansion of the bit depth, dynamic range, and color space. The media industry should adopt HEVC as a comprehensive standard and specifically web browsers should provide support. The “Better Programmable Graphics” open source format based on the x265 HEVC encoder demonstrates that HEVC still image encoding can outperform that of JPEG (“BPG”). HEVC patent holders should pool their licenses with MPEG LA with consumer uses royalty free (Vaughan).
The FCC should standardize ATSC 3 as and with it reform the Emergency Alert System in band protocol to provide live video and a more tactful presentation (“The Four Network Affiliates”). It should respect the needs of cable operators by not imposing must carry restrictions for ATSC 3 signals until a market has completely transitioned from ATSC 1.0 and cable operators should not be required to carry the content in its original quality (American Cable Association). The industry should fund a comprehensive interactive public education system spearheaded by PBS and distributed by ATSC 3 and IP for free nationwide (Minow, Kearney & Levine). Future research should explore what coverage will look like with various ATSC 3 modes, how the overuse of emergency alerts affects the public, the effects of the 2016 election on trust in media, the required bit rates for HEVC and SHVC, and the security and privacy implications of each new technology and product.
“The Medium is not the Message”
– Nicholas Negroponte
(Founder, MIT Media Lab)
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