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CU Comments to the FCC Regarding the Next Gen TV (ATSC 3.0) Transition

Consumers Union submitted comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that, if approved, would permit broadcasters to voluntarily transition to the new ATSC 3.0 digital broadcast standard. Next Gen TV could offer consumers several new benefits: even better than current HD picture quality (up to 4K Ultra-High-Definition or UHD resolution), enhanced emergency alerts delivered with more precision, and delivery of the ATSC 3.0 signal to mobile devices. If realized, we agree that many consumers would enjoy these benefits, provided the cost of acquiring the equipment to receive the signal (e.g., a new television with an ATSC 3.0 tuner or a converter) in the future is not too high. As we often see in the free market, the success or failure of ATSC 3.0 is a gamble; we would argue its success is dependent upon whether consumers are unduly burdened or not. First and foremost, the promised benefits must actually become realized and, for consumers to adopt the technology, these benefits must exceed the costs. Therefore, consumers will play a large role in determining the future of Next Gen TV.