LG Dumps ATSC 3.0/NEXTGEN TV Tuners on High-End TVs for 2024

As discussed in our recent article, U.S. TV broadcasting is in the middle of a digital OTA broadcasting system transition from ATSC 1.0 (implemented in 2009) to ATSC 3.0 (aka NEXTGEN TV).

ATSC 3.0 NextGenTV Logo

Here is a quick rundown on NEXGEN TV features:

  • Support for over-the-air digital broadcasting in 4K UHD resolution as well as the ability to simulcast HD and SD sub-channels within the same bandwidth.
  • Accommodates HDR and Wide Color Gamut.
  • Up to 120 fps video transmission.
  • Immersive audio (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X), multiple language tracks, and other audio formats as designated.
  • 3D video transmission (max 1080p).
  • Over-the-air and broadband transmission of programming and supplementary content for mobile and internet-enabled devices.
  • Improved Emergency Alert System for the weather, natural disasters, or other key events.
  • Secure digital copy-protection (watermarking) for content owners and providers (similar to what HDCP provides for HDMI).

To dig deeper refer to our reference article linked to at the top of this page.

To support NEXTGEN access for consumers, select LG, Samsung, Sony, and Hisense TVs include ATSC 3.0 tuners and there are also external set-top add-on tuners available as an option as well. More TV and set-top brands are expected to join in as things progress. 

2023 LG OLED evo TV Angle

Slow Implementation

So far, the adoption of NEXTGEN TV has been slow. Since it is voluntary, many TV broadcast stations have not been in a hurry to make the financial investment into new equipment, and, likewise, TV makers have not been in a hurry to incorporate the new tuners that would allow TV viewers to receive the new signals. 

Also, set-top box makers have likewise not made enough add-on tuner boxes available that would allow current TV owners to take advantage of what NEXTGEN TV has to offer. 

LG Just Made Matters Worse

LG has placed another obstacle in support of NEXTGEN TV adoption as they have announced that ATSC 3.0 tuners will not be included in its high-end LCD-based and OLED TVs for 2024 after having included them for the past few years.

However, LG has submitted a letter to the FCC indicating that the cost of specific patents needed for compliance has caused it to abandon its support of ATSC 3.0 at this time. 

Patents Controversy

The patents in question are held by Constellation Designs, LLC. which reportedly cover some of the compliance aspects for the ATSC 3.0 standard. However, reportedly these patents were not included with the rest of the ATSC 3.0 licensing package. As a result, LG and any other manufacturer that wants to include ATSC 3.0 in its products have to negotiate a separate licensing deal with Constellation Designs outside of the royalty fees that are already being paid to the ATSC 3.0 patent group. 

LG successfully negotiated this deal previously so they could include ATSC 3.0 tuners in select TVs. However, LG is now claiming that Constellation Designs has increased its royalty fee from $3 to $6.75 per TV. 

LG claims that this violates the initial licensing policy for the use of ATSC technology as the plan was to holders set fees on a “reasonable and non-discriminatory” (RAND) basis.

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When LG took Constellation Designs to Court, the case was decided in Constellation Designs’ favor.

As a result, LG has announced that due to what it sees as unjust increased cost, it will drop ATSC 3.0/NEXTGEN TV tuners from its high-end LCD-based and OLED TVs for 2024. 

Implications of LG’s Decision

Although this could have long-term implications regarding consumers being able to access NEXTGEN TV broadcasts, without having to spend more money and put up with more cable clutter to access NEXTGEN TV broadcasts as they become available, there is a possibility that this could get resolved before CES in January when new TVs are announced, including those from LG. 

Two factors in play that may ease the situation in the short term:

  1. LG has appealed the court’s decision.
  2. The FCC may adjust the time that the current ATSC 1.0 broadcasting will remain available. 

Tip: ATSC 3.0/NEXTGEN TV Market Map

LG, The FCC, and Pearl TV

LG has sent a letter to the FCC that includes the following comments:

LG strongly urges the Commission to recognize the role of patents and the rights of both patent licensors and licensees and especially their impact on the rollout of NextGen TV products in the United States. We urge the Commission to continue its inquiry in this area and to recognize the benefits of RAND behavior. The Commission may wish to examine the effects of patents held by patent holders that have not committed to offering their patents under RAND terms.Read the entire letter (pdf).

This will definitely be a topic of discussion at the next CES to be held in January 2024

From Anne Schelle, Pearl TV’s Managing Director: LG’s decision to suspend support for NEXTGEN TV products in 2024 because of an ongoing patent dispute is unfortunate, but we are hopeful that the matter can be resolved.  We’re anticipating that additional TV manufacturers will be adding NEXTGEN TV as a new feature in the coming months. As with any technology transition, success is a moving target. We are pleased to see that the largest media market in the nation – New York City – is about to launch NEXTGEN TV service from two different transmission towers. Consumers are buying thousands of NEXTGEN TV receivers – both television sets and upgrade accessory receivers – and the industry is on track to cumulatively sell 10 million receivers by the end of this year.

Tip: Pearl TV is a business organization of U.S. broadcast companies heavily invested in promoting the adoption of ATSC 3.0/NEXTGEN TV broadcasting and related technologies. 

From Wells Fargo Media Market Analyst Steven Cahall: “LG has been ATSC 3.0-forward in its designs… while some outlets have reported that Samsung and Sony could drop ATSC 3.0 tech, there’s no evidence of that and we think TV OEMs like the future advertising optionality of the new broadcast standard“.

This is definitely a continuing story – it will be interesting to see how other TV makers in the ATSC 3.0/NEXTGEN TV tuner adoption camp (Samsung, Sony, Hisense) react.

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