Advanced Television

NEXTGEN TV project for Washington, D.C.

June 17, 2021

By Colin Mann

An expansive collaborative effort is now underway to launch NEXTGEN TV service in the US capital, with the academic resources and technical prowess of Howard University’s WHUT serving as the host station for ATSC 3.0 broadcasts for five local affiliate stations of national broadcast networks.

Following extensive engineering and operational planning and installation of a new transmitter and related equipment and upgrades to the station’s physical plant, WHUT is expected to sign on with NEXTGEN TV signals from five different network sources later in summer 2021.

“The Howard University NEXTGEN TV Broadcast Collaborative is beginning work to transition WHUT to an ATSC 3.0 facility,” advised Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “The Howard community is excited to lead this important initiative which will modernise the Washington, D.C. market infrastructure and capabilities to deliver high-quality broadcasts with the latest technologies available. Howard University, founded in 1867, is one of the oldest and most prestigious of the historically black colleges and universities. The university currently owns and operates WHUT, the first and only public TV station owned and licensed to an historically black institution.

Howard University’s WHUT will serve as the host station for NEXTGEN TV broadcasts for local stations WHUT (PBS), WJLA (ABC), WUSA (CBS), WTTG (FOX), and WRC (NBC).  WJLA will carry high-definition programming from both the ABC network and WHUT, along with several standard-definition commercial sub-channels and the WHUT PBS Kids service.

Complementing the new broadcast service, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) are working together with Howard University and other collaborators to develop new NEXTGEN TV services through a learning lab.

The collaborative project is being managed by the Pearl TV broadcaster business group, which has led similar industry showcase efforts for the launch of NEXTGEN TV in Phoenix and Detroit. The Washington television market is the nation’s ninth-largest and posed a unique opportunity for commercial and public broadcasting to band together in launching these state-of-the-art services.

“We believe the Howard University NEXTGEN TV Broadcast Collaborative will be a shining example of how collaboration and initiative can lead the broadcast industry into the future,” stated Anne Schelle, Managing Director of Pearl TV.  WHUT will be an ideal living laboratory for new engineering work that will help bring about the full capabilities of the NEXTGEN TV broadcast standard. We’re looking forward to working with Howard University’s schools of communications and engineering to not only launch WHUT in NEXTGEN TV, but also to conduct research and educate future engineers and journalists who will learn how to take advantage of the many capabilities of NEXTGEN TV broadcasting,”

“We have enjoyed working with Howard University to offer a first-of-its-kind NEXTGEN TV seminar series to students and faculty during the spring semester and we are delighted that several students earned a certificate of foundational knowledge, and one has already earned an internship focused on NEXTGEN TV,” commented Sam Matheny, Chief Technology Officer and Executive VP of the National Association of Broadcasters. “This will kickstart our next phase, which is an interactive learning lab in partnership with broadcasters, professional equipment manufacturers, and consumer technology companies that are involved with this project. We intend to demonstrate the myriad capabilities of NEXTGEN TV throughout the Washington area and the nation while building the next generation of broadcast technologist with Howard University.”

Supporting organisations for the Howard NEXTGEN TV Broadcast Collaborative are:

APTS; Dolby; GatesAir; Harmonic; Heartland Video Systems; Howard University and WHUT-TV; IBM; LG Electronics; LTN Global Communications; Pearl TV broadcaster business group and Phoenix Model Market Partners; NAB; Samsung; Sony; Synamedia; Triveni Digital; WHUT (PBS); WJLA (Sinclair Broadcast Group); WRC (NBCUniversal Local); WTTG (Fox Television Stations); WUSA (TEGNA).

Washington, D.C. will join a list of nearly 30 cities where NEXTGEN TV signals are now available, as consumer technology companies move to expand the availability of integrated NEXTGEN TV sets and related set-top receivers.


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