In a report we’ve prepared for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), BIA examines the opportunities of ATSC 3.0 and provides recommendations for public media entities as they plan their local market roll-out strategies.
First, a foundational question must be answered: Should your station make the transition to ATSC 3.0? While transitioning will be very challenging and involve significant financial and other resources, BIA advises stations that choose not to do the transition may risk an uncertain future in a competitive and fast evolving marketplace that now requires the type of capabilities ATSC supports. Additionally, entities must consider how their strategic mission of service to their local communities would be affected by not moving to this new transmission platform.
Next, many questions will surface when a station decide to transition to ATSC 3.0: When would be the most appropriate time for a transition? Do you become early movers? Do you take a deliberate “wait and see” approach and learn from others? Regardless of how transitioning stations address the timing issue, it is imperative to start gathering information, considering options and developing strategic plans.
Digging into specific areas of consideration, BIA recommends these eight important areas for public media to include in their ATSC 3.0 strategic planning:
1. Strategy and Business Models: The ATSC 3.0 platform supports new capabilities and revenue-generating opportunities that can be incorporated into noncommercial public media’s strategic plans. It also has business models consistent with mission goals and objectives, and local market needs and opportunities. Study the options and determine best fits for your operation.
2. Personnel: Existing personnel and new hires should commit to being informed about ATSC 3.0 implementation and opportunities and pay particular attention to implications for the interplay between station operational areas. This includes keeping abreast of the developments in current and emerging pilot programs around the country.
3. Industry: Relationship-building with local commercial operators and participation in industry technical groups and committees (e.g., SMPTE, IEEE, ATSC), as well as state and national broadcast associations, will help to increase the acquisition of information and provide a deeper understanding of challenges and opportunities.
4. Governing Body: The more informed and prepared a station’s governing body is, the more productive the planning and strategy development processes can be. Webinars, position papers, briefings and discussions made available to these groups will be invaluable to ensure an effective and timely transition.
5. Financial/Operational: Begin planning now for changes to the transmission chain. Ensure the remainder of the physical plant is ready for an IP-based infrastructure. Consider whether the migration also suggests a change in operating model, organization structure or other foundational aspects of your operation.
6. Communications: Develop a communications strategy and messaging. A station’s communications strategy for informing its local communities should anticipate possible audience confusion and resistance but also promote new capabilities and benefits.
7. Legal: Collaboration with the production community, commercial stations, non-broadcast data agreements, and cooperative agreements with other stakeholders will require skilled legal review and consideration to determine how and where ATSC 3.0 specific capabilities may impact terms and conditions.
8. Content and Applications: It is unlikely that just one “killer ATSC 3.0 app” will emerge. Rather, each station should focus on benefits that most closely match its strategy, market, skill set, and organizational plan. Given the lengthy funding cycles and ramp-up time necessary for high quality production, early planning is essential to ensure enough content is available to take advantage of the opportunities offered by ATSC 3.0.
Read the full report is available here.