The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) was formed in 1982 by representatives of the Joint Committee on Inter-Society Coordination (JCIC). The purpose of the ATSC is to facilitate and develop voluntary technical standards for an advanced television system to replace the aging American NTSC television standard. The ATSC is also charged with making recommendations to the Unites States Department of State to assist the U.S. in developing positions on various standards issues that are raised in front of the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR). Advanced Television Systems Committee membership consists of 53 organizations including representatives from the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Electronic Industries Association and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

The ATSC is involved in various efforts to improve the quality of the television picture and audio signal. In 1993, the Advanced Television Systems Committee recommended adoption of a ghost-canceling reference signal which is expected to dramatically improve the quality of television reception suffering from multipath interference in large metropolitan areas. ATSC has been actively involved in advocating adoption of a unified production and transmission standard for high definition television (HDTV). In 1981, Japan's NHK broadcasting organization demonstrated a working HDTV system called MUSE, which produced startling clear, rich color images of exceptional resolution. The MUSE system utilized analog technology that was incompatible with the American NTSC color television standard. The MUSE system also required substantially larger spectrum allocations than current NTSC signals. The ATSC accepted the recommendations of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) by calling for the American and world-wide acceptance of Japan's 1,125/60 standard for high definition television production. In 1986, the CCIR refused to accept the standard, claiming that adoption would be detrimental to the interest of many of its members and participants. Renewed recommendations by the ATSC in 1988 for adoption of the 1,125/60 Japanese standard met with opposition from U.S. network broadcasts because the system requirements were not easily convertible for NTSC usage.

In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) invited proponents of HDTV to propose a system that would provide terrestrial high definition television to the United States. By 1990, several American entrants proposed all digital transmission systems that proved preferable to the analog MUSE system. Perhaps the biggest advantage of

Courtesy of ATSC

these digital systems was the potential for scaling HDTV signals into a 6 MHz bandwidth allowing transmission by terrestrial broadcasters. Later various proponents of digital systems merged their proposals into a compromise hybrid digital system. The ATSC reevaluated its recommendation and is now working with various FCC committees, including the Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Services, to promote an all digital television standard.

- Fritz J. Messere


"HDTV production: The future is almost now," Broadcasting, Washington, D.C: Broadcast Publications, vol. 115. no. 16. (Oct. 17, 1988). p.. 39-42.

Head, Sidney W. and Christopher H. Sterling and Lemuel B. Schofield, Broadcasting in America, 7th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994).

"High definition in high gear in '88," Broadcasting, Washington, D.C: Broadcast Publications, vol. 114. no. 7. (Jan 4, 1988). p. 104-106.

Rice, John F. ed., HDTV, New York: Union Square Press, 1990.

Rosenthal, Edmond, "Broadcasters find it easy to get rid of their ghosts," Electronic Media, Crain Communications, Inc. news wire service, (april 5, 1993). p. 22.

Schreiber, William F., "HDTV Technology: Advanced Television Systems and Public Policy Options," Telecommunications, Norwood, MA: Horizon House-Microwave, Inc. vol. 21, no. 11 (Nov. 1987). pp. 37-42.

"Step by step to HDTV standard," Broadcasting, Washington, D.C: Broadcast Publications, vol. 114. no. 5. (Feb 1, 1988) pp. 66-67.

"Tres grand alliance: world standard?" Broadcasting and Cable, Washington,D.C: Reed Publishing, vol. 123. no. 25. (June 21, 1993). p. 54.

See also High-Definition Television; Standards and Practices