Inside WRAL

WRAL begins broadcasting in next-gen TV technology

Posted June 29, 2016 7:19 a.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2016 7:01 p.m. EDT

— WRAL-TV on Wednesday became the first commercially-licensed television station to broadcast its news under next-generation standards.

Capitol Broadcasting's NBC affiliate in Raleigh-Durham, WRAL, launched its new ATSC 3.0 station by airing "Take Me Out to the Bulls' Game," a documentary shot, edited and post-produced in 4K/UHD HDR. Following the documentary, the station switched to WRAL News at noon.

"Capitol Broadcasting believes strongly in the future of over-the-air broadcasting, and that ATSC 3.0 represents the technological breakthrough that will enable local stations to remain the primary source of news, information and entertainment on any device," said CBC President and CEO Jim Goodmon. "In fact, next-generation TV will provide the capacity for an extraordinary range of new interactive tools and become a major part of the digital future."

The new standards, devised by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, are still more than a year away from coming into viewers' homes. WRAL operated its groundbreaking newscast on channel 39 under an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission. But the standard promises better looking over-the-air pictures and more vibrant colors.

Beyond broadcasting higher quality pictures, ATSC 3.0 will also create new opportunities for a range of interactive content. The broadcast system, based on Internet Protocol, will deliver detailed information during times of crisis through television, tablet or phone.

"This is the next stage, the next step for us," said CBC New Media Vice President and General Manager Jimmy Goodmon. "We can actually push content to them that might have nothing to do with WRAL, but it's what they want to consume and we'll hopefully be able to save people money from their broadband bills."

WRAL's ATSC 3.0 broadcasts will dramatically improve over-the-air reception by antenna, will be better at penetrating buildings and will be received better by mobile devices.

Today, there are only a handful of prototype televisions in the world that can receive the new transmission format. WRAL has one of the prototypes to support the launch.

The new technology could be available for early adopters in North Carolina by late 2017.

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