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CES: New TV standard released

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The Advanced Television Systems Committee has approved the release of ATSC 3.0, a range of TV standards that will give broadcasters the ability to deliver 4K Ultra HDTV and interactive services using a mix of Internet and broadcast connections.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has commemorated the achievement of a major milestone in TV history, with final member votes being tallied for approval of remaining standards that together comprise the ATSC 3.0 suite of next-generation TV standards.

Announced at CES 2018, running at Las Vegas, the release of ATSC 3.0 is the culmination of a five-year effort to re-think over-the-air broadcast television service in the Internet age. ATSC 3.0 provides broadcasters with remarkable flexibility and new market opportunities through enhanced transmission and reception functionality and delivery of 4K Ultra HDTV, immersive audio, and interactive services using a mix of Internet and broadcast connections.

Marking the milestone today at CES, ATSC President Mark Richer was joined onstage by Consumer Technology Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro, National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith.

“Our suite of ATSC 3.0 standards paves the way for a new kind of television service, one that is far more flexible and adaptable than previous standards. ATSC 3.0 will bring historic innovations to broadcasters and to viewers, from robust transmission to immersive audio, and from 4K Ultra-HDTV to interactive services and more. The 20 individual standards that comprise the release of ATSC 3.0 will give broadcasters the ability to utilize new transmission methods and finally bring together innovations in both over-the-air and broadband services,” said ATSC President Mark Richer.

“ATSC looks forward to continuing work on the standard, including its deployment in initial markets and future enhancements. We remain uniquely positioned to support the first trial launches of ATSC 3.0 services and products beginning this year. In addition to our ongoing standards work, the ATSC has a very important role in educating stakeholders about how the technology works and assisting in implementation planning in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” Richer said.

South Korean broadcasters initiated ATSC 3.0 broadcast service focused on Ultra HDTV last year and plan to transmit next month’s XXIII Winter Olympics in PyeongChang using the new standard. American broadcasters hail the new standard and its Internet Protocol backbone, which opens the doors for new opportunities.

Marriage of Broadcast and Broadband

“Broadcasters stand ready to take full advantage of the capabilities of the new voluntary standard, which can seamlessly mix both broadcast and broadband content to deliver enhanced information and entertainment for our viewers. One of the most compelling new features of ATSC 3.0 will be the rich media emergency alerting capabilities, allowing local broadcasters to target viewers in specific areas in their markets when disaster looms. Our viewers depend on their local stations for breaking news and information, and ATSC 3.0 gives local stations the ability to merge resources and information like never before,” said Gordon Smith, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

With the release of ATSC 3.0 on the opening day of CES 2018 in Las Vegas, the technology industry looks ahead to the new year. ATSC 3.0 is expected to be demonstrated in private suites and in various behind-the-scenes demonstrations at the annual CES, with consumer products more likely to be introduced in 2019 or 2020.

“Coupled with the latest innovations in display and audio technology, Next Gen TV, powered by ATSC 3.0, will offer a breathtakingly immersive viewing experience with access to an array of innovative and interactive information services,” said Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. “While we forecast sales of digital displays to increase in 2018, we anticipate future growth will be driven in part by this exciting new technology and the amazing features it brings.”

U.S. Deployment Begins Soon

“Going forward, I see the ATSC as an important information center for broadcasters and manufacturers preparing to launch services and products,” said ATSC Board Chairman Richard Friedel, Executive Vice President and General Manager for FOX Networks Engineering & Operations. “That means exciting opportunities for our members to get engaged in field testing, broadcast trials and plug-fests this year. There will also be opportunities to contribute to important new work on conformance and compliance, privacy and security, and more.”

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Prepare for Digital TV migration

The deadline for the digital migration is fast approaching. JACQUES BENTLEY, Skyworth Southern Africa Sales Manager, lets us know what we can expect.

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By now you’ve probably heard about the impending digital migration for South African broadcasting. Initially, this shift from old-school, analogue technology to newer, more efficient digital technology was set to take place in 2015 but the deadline for a national migration has been pushed out several times. With our neighbours Namibia and Botswana blazing ahead with their own digital transformations, the pressure is on for our own government to push forward to a fully digital South Africa.

But what does this overdue switch really mean for you and me?

What is digital migration?

Basically, the process involves moving over from an analogue transmission to a Digital Terrestrial Television/Transmission (DTT). We currently use analogue technology, transmitting video and audio through analogue signals. The drawback of this traditional broadcasting format is that the colours, sound and brightness are heavily impacted by the quality of the signal, resulting in a less-than-ideal snowy effect, and your TV deciding to randomly fade or ghost.

Digital TV, on the other hand, boasts crystal-clear image quality and excellent sound without interference because of its land-based network of TV transmitters that broadcast digital signals. This kind of technology also allows viewers to access a wider range of channels with different programmes.

Why is it happening?

Apart from the fact that everyone wants clearer sound, more channels and an enhanced viewing experience, the conversion to digital TV also has a far-reaching goal that ultimately

aids developing nations like our own. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the objective of Broadcast Digital Transition (BDT) work is to help developing countries with their smooth journey from analogue to digital broadcasting, including terrestrial TV, mobile TV and sound broadcasting. In turn, this means that we can enjoy new broadcasting services as well as an allocation of the digital dividend.

When is it taking place?

June 2019 is D-Day for all countries to have completed their digital migration. Our Communications department is determined to meet this international deadline and has implemented a specific DTT war room to ensure that all the boxes are ticked, and they can deliver on time.

The first province to undergo the digital migration was the Free State back in August, where digital Set-Top Boxes (STBs) were launched in Senekal. Essentially, STBs decode digital signals for old, box-style TV sets and the government aims to distribute these devices to about 5-million poor households, so that all citizens can enjoy prime TV, despite their financial situation. In fact, Skyworth is one of the chosen suppliers of these set-top boxes and is proud to be a core part of an all-inclusive transition to digital.

What can you do about it?

While the government has agreed to subsidise cash-strapped consumers with STBs, the only guarantee is that the digital migration is upon us and it is our responsibility to digitally transform our homes in order to meet the requirements. This means that you’ll either need to invest in a digital-ready TV or purchase your own STB to work with your current TV’s analogue signal. Whichever route you decide to go, you can look forward to exceptional viewing entertainment in the comfort of your own home.

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5 things you should ask about buying a new TV

With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.

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Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).

  1. Size matters

If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.

  1. Is it digital-ready?

South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.

  1. Does it have a 4K screen resolution?

Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.

  1. What will you be using your TV for?

Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.

  1. Does it include cutting-edge technology?

From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.

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