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
production: The future is almost now," Broadcasting, Washington,
D.C: Broadcast Publications, vol. 115. no. 16. (Oct. 17, 1988).
Sidney W. and Christopher H. Sterling and Lemuel B. Schofield,
Broadcasting in America, 7th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
definition in high gear in '88," Broadcasting, Washington,
D.C: Broadcast Publications, vol. 114. no. 7. (Jan 4, 1988). p.
John F. ed., HDTV, New York: Union Square Press, 1990.
Edmond, "Broadcasters find it easy to get rid of their ghosts,"
Electronic Media, Crain Communications, Inc. news wire
service, (april 5, 1993). p. 22.
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.
by step to HDTV standard," Broadcasting, Washington, D.C:
Broadcast Publications, vol. 114. no. 5. (Feb 1, 1988) pp. 66-67.
grand alliance: world standard?" Broadcasting and Cable,
Washington,D.C: Reed Publishing, vol. 123. no. 25. (June 21, 1993).