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Next TV quietly changes story on patent dispute involving LG

The story included a headline that speculated Sony and Samsung might follow LG's lead in pulling support for NextGen TV.

The story included a headline that speculated Sony and Samsung might follow LG's lead in pulling support for NextGen TV.

A LG OLED television set.
A LG OLED television set. (Image courtesy LG, Graphic by The Desk)

The streaming-focused entertainment publication Next TV has quietly amended a story concerning the outcome of a legal case involving LG after The Desk raised issues about the accuracy of a headline associated with the article.

Last week, the website published a story that contained a speculative headline that suggested Sony and Samsung might follow rival electronics company LG’s lead in dropping support for ATSC 3.0 in future models of their smart TV sets.

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), LG said it made the difficult decision to not include ATSC 3.0 support in its 2024 model TVs after it lost a civil case brought by a patent holder that has the rights to certain technology used by broadcasters supporting the standard, which is marketed under the NextGen TV brand.

A freelance writer for Next TV’s sister-publication, TechRadar, spotted the filing and posted a story that went into detail on the matter. The story also suggested Sony and Samsung — which currently offer TV sets with ATSC 3.0 tuners — might drop support for NextGen TV based on LG’s move.

Shortly after the TechRadar story went live, Next TV franchised the information for its own story on the patent dispute. That story, written by Next TV managing editor Daniel Frankel, repeated TechRadar’s speculation that Sony and Samsung might drop support for ATSC 3.0 in future TV models.

Officials at Future PLC, the parent company of TechRadar and Next TV, didn’t respond to an email from The Desk with questions about how the stories came together, including whether anyone at the websites contacted Sony or Samsung for confirmation about their plans.

The stories, which were widely sourced among other media and tech publications covering the same topic, raised concerns among key industry stakeholders who are developing and marketing NextGen TV as an improved digital TV broadcast format.

In a message to The Desk over the weekend, ATSC President Madeleine Noland said she had not heard anything about plans by Sony or Samsung to move away from supporting NextGen TV in their hardware, and said any reporting along that line was speculative.

“We only know what we know, [and] it underscores that no one has enough information to make predictions,” Noland said. “Any claims at this point as to what might happen next can be characterized as speculation, unless someone cites a specific source of additional information that I’m not aware of. In the absence of a new, credible source, I think we all need to wait and see.”

Other broadcast and industry executives expressed similar skepticism, with one pointing out that the firm that took LG to court, Constellation Designs, has not filed additional patent lawsuits against Sony or Samsung.

“There is a lot of misinformation about NextGen TV…but the LG issue seems unique to their situation, and there are hundreds of reasons why it will probably be resolved pretty fast,” said one TV executive, who agreed to speak with The Desk on the condition of anonymity.

“Granted, the standard is complicated, and there are a lot of variables and unknowns,” the executive continued. “So, it’s understandable reporters might not fully understand the situation…but they should reach out and ask for clarity, and when they don’t and just print rumors as fact, it really doesn’t help.”

The original headline of a story published by Next TV concerning a patent dispute involving LG. References to Sony and Samsung were later removed. (Graphic by The Desk)
The original headline of a story published by Next TV concerning a patent dispute involving LG. References to Sony and Samsung were later removed. (Graphic by The Desk)

Shortly after The Desk published a story on the situation, someone at Next TV modified the story on the LG patent dispute to remove references to Sony and Samsung from the headline. The article itself still references the TechRadar story, which “[wonders] if other TV makers, including Samsung and Sony, might soon end up dropping ATSC 3.0 tuners from their products.” The TechRadar story remains unchanged.

On its website, Next TV says it participates in the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO), an organization that regulates the magazine and newspaper industry in the United Kingdom. (Future, the parent company of Next TV and TechRadar, is headquartered in London.) The publication says it adheres to IPSO’s Editor’s Code, which requires journalists to ensure they are accurately and fairly covering subjects and to publish a statement if they later correct an error.

The Editor’s Code also requires news publishers to present “a fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies…when reasonably called for.”

While Next TV removed the references to Sony and Samsung from the headline, the publication didn’t include a note to readers acknowledging the change was made or offering a reason why the references were deleted. The story also doesn’t say whether officials at Samsung or Sony were given an opportunity to respond to the speculation, as required by the IPSO’s Editor’s Code.

The speculative story adds to a growing list of rumors surrounding ATSC 3.0, much of which appears to be rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of what broadcasters intend to do with the technology.

For months, bloggers and YouTubers have fueled speculation over the inclusion of digital rights management (DRM) technology in ATSC 3.0 signals, which they believe will be used to prevent TV viewers from recording broadcast television and further restrict access to signals that are currently free to receive.

That speculation has led to a flurry of comments filed by members of the public in an FCC docket that is examining various proposed rules concerning ATSC, with many of the commenters urging the FCC to force broadcasters to abandon the use of DRM.

Broadcasters affirm the use of DRM is preventing some TV viewers using early ATSC 3.0 set-top boxes from accessing encrypted NextGen TV signals. But they say DRM is being used not to restrict viewer access to TV, but to ensure only authorized viewers are receiving signals, and to prevent content from being pirated.

To that effect, the consortium responsible for implementing DRM on NextGen TV signals, called A3SA, recently affirmed new rules that essentially prevent broadcasters from blocking access to their signals if viewers choose to record them using commercially-available DVRs. The rules are in place as long as broadcasters maintain an ATSC 1.0 simulcast of their main ATSC 3.0 signal — which the FCC is requiring TV stations to do through at least 2027.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).