IEEE BTS Talks with the Broadcast Industry Changemakers
IEEE BTS Talks with the Broadcast Industry Changemakers
At a time when there is great change and evolution in the broadcast industry, IEEE BTS
connects with the broadcast professionals at the forefront of change to talk about the industry,
technologies and careers.
Talking broadcast & tech with Madeleine Noland, newly appointed President, ATSC
Question: Congratulations on your recent appointment as president of ATSC. What are
you spearheading at ATSC?
Noland: ATSC is committed to helping usher in the 21st century ecosystem for DTT
broadcasting. As we mark the 10th anniversary of the analog shut-off (June 2009) we can
reflect on how the first digital standard served to lift all boats. Content producers had new storytelling
tools such as high definition video, broadcasters gained new business models such as
multicasting diginets, TV makers were busy offering flat panel HD TVs, MVPDs were offering
upgrade packages, and equipment and tech vendors were supplying the industry with
everything needed to bring these new benefits to life. Now with ATSC 3.0 we have an
opportunity to build on – and even surpass -- that success. We again have the potential to lift all
boats. Content producers will have great new story-telling tools such as high dynamic range, yet
more pixels, multiple audio tracks, interactivity and more. And broadcasters will have new
business opportunities, such as offering yet more services, linking OTA and OTT, mobility, and
thanks to the security technology, the ability to protect against “man in the middle” attacks and
offer high-value content.
And while we are laser-focused on the initial deployment of ATSC 3.0 in the U.S., ATSC is also
setting its sights ahead. Almost 10 years ago, ATSC had the foresight to begin work on ATSC
3.0 and delivered the standard in lock step with the industry’s need for such an advancement.
ATSC will continue that practice of identifying key future needs to stay on the vanguard of digital
terrestrial broadcasting technology.
That is the 10,000 foot view, and as you can imagine there are many activities within ATSC to
support this vision.
Question: Clearly, ATSC 3.0 is vast; how does the organization wrangle all of the
information and options into a state where it can be useable?
Noland: We are taking learnings from early field deployments as well as plug fests to identify
and fill in additional guidance for implementers. ATSC Technology Groups are working on
and several more in the works. And ATSC Implementation Teams have published the Advanced
Emergency Information Implementation Guide with another Guide in the works for the
Question: Do you have a view of the next several years as Next Gen TV powered by
ATSC 3.0 is commercialized?
Noland: We are very excited by the announcement of deployment in the top 40 U.S. markets in
2019 and 2020 – actually 61 markets in all. In the near term, we are 100% committed to
supporting these deployments every way we can. We want to help bring to life the business
models and consumer benefits that broadcasters envision for Next Gen TV. This may start with
broadcasters’ initial service offerings and grow quickly to add more and more of the capabilities
that the ATSC 3.0 system enables.
Question: The way we consume broadcast has drastically changed in the past decade or
so. What additional changes do you anticipate?
Noland: ATSC 3.0 was designed from the ground up to be aligned with Internet technologies. It
is currently the first and only digital terrestrial broadcast system that uses Internet Protocol – or
IP – for data delivery. The IP backbone paves the way for hybrid OTA/OTT use cases, which
can include delivering supplemental parts of a service via OTT, like alternate language audio,
but it also paves the way for ATSC 3.0 to be an integrated part of a larger ecosystem of IP data
delivery networks that includes, for example, 5G/LTE, WiFi and Bluetooth as well as OTT
Question: How do you anticipate the broadcast industry changing in relation to emerging
technologies like 5G, blockchain or artificial intelligence, or one of the many new
‘realities’, i.e., augmented reality, virtual reality, digital reality.
Noland: The flexibility of ATSC 3.0, together with its underlying IP backbone, enables
integrations and connections with other systems that can foster a global outlook of scale and
innovation for our industry. We can envision 3.0 digital terrestrial broadcasting as a very large IP
data delivery pipe – and with broadcasters cooperating with one another, it becomes a very
large nationwide IP data delivery pipe. That IP pipe can be used to deliver television services
and any other kind of data, for example, map updates to cars. With the flexibility of ATSC 3.0,
broadcasters are busy pursuing a wide variety of scenarios. We could see convergence of
ATSC 3.0 with other IP-based delivery networks; we could see broadcasters using hybrid
OTA/OTT to bring new experiences to audiences; we could see broadcasters entering new
sectors such as automotive. Our goal is to support these use cases as each broadcaster
pursues the scenarios best suited to their particular business’ goals and community’s needs.
Question: How did you end up working in standards and what would you recommend
about it to a young professional?
Noland: As a Music Education graduate, I didn’t start out in technology or standards
development, and so you can imagine my path to working in standards may be somewhat
unusual. My advice to a young professional, no matter what your background, is to be curious
about the little opportunities that crop up all around you. You never know which connection you
make, which mini-project you say “yes” to, which mentor you have coffee with, which article you
read, etc. will become something that sparks the next bigger opportunity.
Noland: I like to think that IEEE BTS and ATSC are close partners, sharing the goal of
strengthening the international broadcast industry. I am happy to be an IEEE BTS Distinguished
Lecturer and ATSC is actively support the society’s ATSC 3.0 education efforts. We look
forward to continuing the strong collaborative relationship.
Question: As a distinguished lecturer for IEEE BTS, surely you’ll speak about ATSC 3.0,
but what areas will you focus on?
Noland: I am honored to be included among the IEEE BTS distinguished lecturers. I truly enjoy
speaking – I guess it’s the teacher in me. And to that end, it’s important to tailor any speaking
opportunity to the audience. ATSC 3.0 will certainly be a focal point in many cases, and we can
hone in on various aspects of the standard and ecosystem according to the audience. But as I
mentioned before, ATSC hopes to remain on the cutting edge of broadcasting technology, so
we’ll have to “stay tuned” to find out what other topics of interest to our industry might arise!
Question: What would you most want a young professional coming into the broadcast
industry to know?
Noland: Terrestrial broadcasting is a 21st century technology and media industry. Young
professionals with backgrounds or interest in social media, IT, computer science, marketing,
journalism, IP networking, systems integration, business, engineering and more will find
tremendous opportunities in broadcast. We not only look to young men and women as we move
forward, we rely on them to help usher in the potential of the global terrestrial broadcast
Question: In 2008, CBS CEO Les Moonves said: “Why not break the bond with the
affiliates and go directly to cable? It is something that down the road could happen.”
What happens when CBS, NBC, et al start phasing out their affiliate networks? And how
does ATSC 3.0 help those stations survive and thrive?
Noland: We don’t know what the future will bring for the network-affiliate relationship. In some
cases, we see quotes such as from Les Moonves, and in some cases, we see networks
strengthening their O&O presence and “doubling down” on live news and sports. ATSC 3.0
allows stations to be nimble. The flexibility and evolve-ability of the standard will allow
broadcasters to react to market changes as they arise. ATSC 3.0 can provide the flexible
foundation to allow broadcasters to be creative as they shepherd their businesses into the
Question: Another issue stations are dealing with is retransmission fees. ATSC 3.0
enables pay-per-view, but where will stations get the content to sell if the networks
decide to go direct?
Noland: Given the recent data suggesting that cord cutting is on the rise, broadcasters are most
likely already discussing retransmission revenue in their boardrooms in any case. Our goal is
that ATSC 3.0 is part of those conversations so that broadcasters can consider the range of
opportunities that might fit within their business goals.
Question: Is OTA’s growth as a byproduct of cord-cutting sustainable long term and
where does ATSC 3.0 fit in with that?
Noland: ATSC 3.0 was not conceived to be an agent of change to the broadcaster-MVPD
relationship. ATSC deliberately and consciously avoided technologies that might preclude a
business discussion about any given feature. We envision that 1.0 and 3.0 broadcasters alike
will continue their business relationships with their MVPD partners. Market forces may influence
those relationships, and ATSC 3.0 may provide broadcasters with some resilience as market
shifts occur, but at its heart, ATSC 3.0 is technically agnostic on this issue.