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Brazil will ditch broadcast TV channel numbers for app-based navigation

The shift is part of the development and deployment of a new broadcast TV standard, which will begin rolling out next year.

The shift is part of the development and deployment of a new broadcast TV standard, which will begin rolling out next year.

A stock image of a broadcast tower.
(Stock image)

Brazil is about to shake up the way its citizens watch over-the-air television broadcasts.

Starting next year, the country’s telecom regulator will begin deploying a new broadcast standard called TV 3.0, which will ditch traditional broadcast channel numbers in favor of an app-based navigation experience.

The switch will allow Brazilian households that use broadcast and Internet-based connections on their smart TVs to seamlessly move between over-the-air television signals and over-the-top video services, including Internet-based linear channels and on-demand products.

Along with those changes, TV 3.0 will offer advancements in digital broadcast signals, including the ability to transmit ultra high-definition (UHD/4K) video streams in high dynamic range (HDR), which improves clarity, color and contrast, as well as multi-channel audio support beyond the traditional 5.1 surround sound standard.

In many respects, TV 3.0 sounds like it will resemble NextGen TV in the United States — and that’s no accident: One of the same groups that is behind the development and deployment of NextGen TV, ATSC, has offered consultation services to government officials in Brazil for their new broadcast standard. Members of the ATSC Brazil Implementation Team have met with their counterparts in Brazil over the past year, according to people who spoke with The Desk on background about the project.

Early last year, Brazil’s Fórum Sistema Brasileiro TV Digital Terrestre recommended adopting key parts of the ATSC 3.0 standard for its TV 3.0 broadcast technology. While the American model is heavily favored by the development group and Brazilian regulators, the government is still leaving open the possibility of adopting some parts of Europe’s DVB-T2 and Japan’s ISDB-T technology for the finalized version of TV 3.0, which is expected to be announced in late 2024. Currently, digital television in Brazil has operated using the ISDB-T standard since 2007.

Government officials in Brazil have announced plans to offer lines of credit to broadcasters, so they can upgrade their facilities and equipment to deploy signals using the TV 3.0 standard.

Once it is deployed, regulators envision a situation where more than 100 million Brazilian TV households and over 200 million mobile device users will have unfettered access to broadcast channels and over-the-top television services, with a standard app-based delivery system that offers a seamless experience across devices.

The elimination of traditional broadcast television channels will help further facilitate that transition. In its place, TV 3.0 will use a single video program that can be deployed to smart TVs, tablets, phones and computers.

The decision to drop channel numbers will also allow Brazilian regulators to better allocate spectrum in cities where frequencies set aside for television use are already congested. By standardizing a video-based solution and eliminating channel numbers, regulators can facilitate the deployment of several TV networks on a single frequency by leveraging new technology and multi-cast capabilities. That will, in turn, allow regulators to free up spectrum that is needed for other applications, including mobile phone service, in the future.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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