ATSC Forum to close at month's end

Monday, September 14, 2009

The ATSC Forum - the industry group lobbying for the adoption of the US digital TV standard - has decided to discontinue operations as of September 30, the forum said in a statement.

The forum's chairman Robert Graves told BNamericas that the manufacturing companies that represent the ATSC are now less concerned about which digital TV standard the equipment they make represents and so are increasingly less inclined to finance a group advocating one standard or another.

"More and more countries have announced their decisions, and as the years have gone by we've had fewer and fewer companies willing to support the special advocacy work of the forum. All of these companies typically make equipment for all of the standards, and increasingly they don't really care which standard is adopted," Graves said.

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"They do want to see digital television move ahead and that is one thing we have helped to do, in pushing the process forward, and we take some credit for that even in the countries where our standard ultimately was not adopted," Graves said.

Graves said he regretted that the ATSC Forum's vision of a common standard for all of the Americas was not realized.

The news comes on the same day that Chile announced it will adopt the Japanese standard ISDB-T and adapt it, as Brazil has done and Peru and Argentina plan to do.

Graves said he was disappointed that Chile had not chosen ATSC after 12 years of lobbying in the country.

Nonetheless, the executive said that he is optimistic that countries in the Caribbean and Central America will choose ATSC, particularly the Dominican Republic.

Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador went with the US standard, as did South Korea and Canada. Guatemala and Costa Rica have been broadcasting ATSC HDTV since 2006, but have not yet officially chosen a standard.

Graves said he does not believe the ATSC Forum no longer lobbying in the region as before will sway the choice of any country that is already at an advanced stage of its decision-making process, given that the forum has been doing groundwork and carrying out education seminars in most countries in Latin America for several years.

He added that the ATSC organization - which represents approximately 200 international corporations, associations and research and educational institutions developing the ATSC standard - will continue to function normally and be available to answer any questions countries might have on the standard.