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Sinclair commits resources to help public TV stations launch NextGen TV signals

Public stations in areas where a Sinclair outlet serves as the ATSC 3.0 "lighthouse" can get free access to a NextGen TV virtual channel.

Public stations in areas where a Sinclair outlet serves as the ATSC 3.0 "lighthouse" can get free access to a NextGen TV virtual channel.

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

Sinclair Broadcast Group has extended an offer to local public television stations by agreeing to provide a critical resource to help them launch on the next-generation digital broadcast standard.

This week, executives at Sinclair committed to working with non-profit organization America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) to help bring local public TV stations to ATSC 3.0, the new digital broadcast technology better known by the consumer brand name “NextGen TV.”

In areas where a Sinclair-owned station serves at the ATSC 3.0 “lighthouse” broadcaster, the company will offer a local public TV station free access to one virtual channel.

The move is intended to help public TV stations reach consumers who are already watching NextGen TV signals on newer-model smart TVs or via aftermarket tuners.

Sinclair stations in 43 markets serve as the ATSC 3.0 lighthouse — a broadcast outlet that agrees to serve as the main broadcaster of a market’s local ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and CW affiliate, even when those affiliates directly compete with Sinclair.

The arrangement — which is not unique to Sinclair — is part of a broader industry effort to encourage the deployment of NextGen TV and to get consumers using the technology without missing network programming, live sports and local news aired on major television stations.

Sinclair hopes its goodwill gesture will help public TV stations reach more viewers through NextGen TV, especially in markets where smaller community-owned stations might lack the financial resources to lease transmission space or facilitate such a transition on their own.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with America’s Public Television Stations to help bring the next generation of television to all viewers,” Rob Weisbord, Sinclair’s Chief Operating Officer and President of Broadcast, said in a statement. “For public television stations that face challenges in launching NextGen service, we hope that this offer will help get them in the advanced TV game and set the stage for their eventual launch of this spectacular service over the air.”

“America’s Public Television Stations are pleased to partner with Sinclair to offer more NextGen TV service to more public television viewers,” said Patrick Butler, the President and CEO of APTS. “We are proud to have helped public television stations in almost 30 markets make the transition to the NextGen TV broadcast standard. This partnership with Sinclair will help serve local communities while we work with other public television stations to transition to NextGen TV to advance their public service missions.”

In addition to providing a virtual channel, Sinclair says public TV stations will have the opportunity to transmit content in high dynamic range (HDR), which offers better color and contrast on television sets that support the feature.

Community-based public TV stations who want more information about Sinclair’s offer are asked to work directly with APTS.

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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 11 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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