The transition from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0, the most recent commonplace for over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting, hasn’t been going very easily. Now, it seems like a patent dispute is about to make issues worse, no less than for people who purchase a brand new 2024 TV from LG.
In keeping with LG, its 2024 TVs will lack ATSC 3.0 (also called NextGen TV) compatibility, and if the Federal Communications Fee (FCC) sticks to its present plan of forcing broadcasters to close down their ASTC 1.0 indicators in June 2027, these TVs can have no means of receiving OTA stations after that point — with out the assistance of a third-party set-top field.
The choice comes as one thing a shock. Till now, LG has been one in all ATSC 3.0’s greatest supporters. It has included NextGen TV-compatible tuners in nearly all of its flagship OLED and LED TVs for a number of years in anticipation of the brand new OTA digital commonplace changing into the way in which that every one U.S. broadcasters ship content material by way of antenna.
In a current letter to the FCC, LG particulars the way in which a particular set of patents has brought on it to desert its help of ATSC 3.0 going ahead.
The problem stems from patents held by Constellation Designs, LLC. These patents cowl gadgets which are deemed “important” to compliance with the ATSC 3.0 commonplace, however Constellation Designs hasn’t included these patents within the patent pool that covers most, if not all, of the opposite important ATSC 3.0 patents. In different phrases, LG and another producer that desires to incorporate ATSC 3.0 in its merchandise should negotiate a separate licensing cope with Constellation Designs outdoors of the royalty charges which are already being paid to the license pool.
When LG started its inclusion of ATSC 3.0 applied sciences in its TVs, this association was apparently efficiently negotiated. Now, LG contends that Constellation Designs has elevated its royalty charges by over 100%, from $3 per TV to $6.75. LG sees this as a departure from the traditional ATSC requirement that important patent holders set royalties on a “affordable and non-discriminatory” (RAND) foundation. LG and Constellation Designs have even gone to court docket over the matter, however the case was determined in favor of Constellation Designs.
It’s not over but
There’s nonetheless an opportunity this drawback might go away. LG has indicated it could but attraction the court docket’s ruling, and if it does, it might win that attraction. It’s additionally attainable the FCC will evaluation its 2027 deadline, thereby extending the period of time that ATSC 1.o broadcasts stay accessible — LG’s TVs will proceed to be ATSC 1.0 appropriate no matter their ATSC 3.0 compatibility. Nonetheless, if the patent dispute can’t be resolved, this simply kicks the issue additional down the street.
It’s additionally attainable that LG has made its declaration relating to its 2024 TVs as a bargaining chip, exhibiting its resolve within the hopes that this may pressure the FCC to behave on the matter. In its letter, LG successfully asks for that:
“LG strongly urges the Fee to acknowledge the function of patents and the rights of each patent licensors and licensees, and particularly their influence on the rollout of NextGen TV merchandise in the US. We urge the Fee to proceed its inquiry on this space and to acknowledge the advantages of RAND habits. The Fee could want to study the results of patents held by patent holders that haven’t dedicated to supply their patents below RAND phrases.”
If the FCC is ready to resolve the patent dispute, LG nonetheless has time to stroll again its resolution to desert ATSC 3.0.
Pearl TV, a enterprise group of U.S. broadcast firms whose membership contains greater than 750 TV stations, a lot of which have begun broadcasting in ATSC 3.0, appears optimistic a decision will be reached. “LG’s resolution to droop help for NextGen TV merchandise in 2024 due to an ongoing patent dispute is unlucky,” mentioned Anne Schelle, Pearl TV’s managing director, in an announcement supplied to Digital Developments, “however we’re hopeful that the matter will be resolved. Within the meantime, we proceed to venture that whole NextGen TV gross sales will cumulatively high 10 million models by yr finish.”