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TV News Checks: Dingell Questions FCC about ATSC 3.0 Impact

TV News Checks: Dingell Questions FCC about ATSC 3.0 Impact

Washington, DC, March 30, 2018

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on Wednesday sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai raising questions about the new broadcast technology standard, ATSC 3.0, and the privacy implications it will have on consumers across the country.

Dingell asked questions about what types of information would be collected from consumers to implement targeted advertisements under the new standard, and how the data would be handled and protected to ensure consumers’ privacy.

She also asked how many television sets will be obsolete when the new standard is fully implemented. Dingell also sent a similar letter to Gordon Smith, CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

“Broadcasters and other stakeholders deserve credit in developing this new standard that will undoubtedly bring significant benefits to consumers including more localized safety warnings and improved picture quality,” wrote Dingell.

“However, ATSC 3.0 is also much more comprehensive than just improving picture quality and safety warnings. It is my understanding that the new standard also contemplates targeted advertisements that would be ‘relevant to you and what you actually might want to see.’

“This raises questions about how advertisers and broadcasters will gather the demographic information from consumers which are necessary to do targeted advertisements, and what privacy protections will be in place for consumers.

“It is also my understanding that ATSC 3.0 will not be backwards-compatible, which means consumers will be forced to replace their televisions if it is widely adopted.”

Dingell also noted that the word “privacy” is not mentioned a single time in the entire ATSC 3.0 draft order released by the FCC, and argued that the commission’s technical review of the order cannot be separated from a review of privacy and security concerns.

The FCC is set to consider the draft order during an open commission meeting on Nov. 16.

“This continues a troubling pattern of indifference at the FCC towards consumer privacy,” Dingell continued. “To better address these concerns, I respectfully request answers to the following questions so that we call better understand the impacts of ATSC 3.0 on the consumer and how the FCC intends to consider privacy issues moving forward.”

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