Chicago Stations Begin Transition To NextGen TV


Television stations in Chicago began the transition to NextGen TV, the new broadcast TV format.

CBS-owned WBBM-TV is transmitting signals using ATSC 3.0 technology. The signal will carry WBBM programming, in addition to programming from Fox’s WFLD-TV, NBC’s WMAQ-TV, Nexstar Media’s WGN-TV and Univision’s WGBO-TV.

WBBM’s ATSC 1.0 signals are being split up among the other participating broadcasters in the market, enabling viewers with sets using the legacy digital broadcast format to continue to watch. Eventually, when enough people have bought Nextgen capable sets, ATSC 1.0 is expected to be be sunsetted.

NextGen TV promises to provide free over-the-air viewers 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, consistent volume across channels, dialogue enhancement, movie theater-quality sound, internet content on demand, advanced emergency alerts and information, expanded and hyperlocal news and dual language capabilities

“America’s third-largest TV market is riding the NextGen TV wave, with the addition of new capabilities for broadcasters and viewers.  We’re especially appreciative of our partners, Heartland Video Systems and LTN and their commitment to getting broadcasters on-the-air, said Anne Schelle, managing director of the Pearl TV group of TV broadcasters that coordinated the Chicago launch.

“Chicago will get the most out of live news and sports programming,” Schelle.said. NextGen TV will transform the fan experience with immersive features such as brilliant color and personalized, interactive bonus content.”

Hisense, Sony, LG and Samsung already make TV sets with NextGen tuners. TCL plans to join them later this year.

There are more than 100 models of NextGen TV set available with prices starting at $600, according to Pearl.

The participating Chicago stations have worked together to ensure that current programming remains available to all viewers, regardless of whether their television service is provided over-the-air or by a cable or satellite company, Pearl said. Antenna viewers can simply rescan their TV sets to ensure full service.