Public Media Company, Michigan State University and WKAR Announce Plans for “Next Gen TV” Test Station

Boulder, Colo. (June 28) — In collaboration with Michigan State University and WKAR, Public Media Company is excited to announce the launch of an experimental Next Gen TV broadcasting station. This is the first ATSC 3.0 test station by a public media station and will be designed to explore the potential of Next Gen TV to build stronger communities through education, news and information, arts, science and culture.

Public Media Company has been on the forefront of helping public television stations plan for “Next Generation Digital Television” because of its game-changing ability to deliver expanded programming and services to targeted households using a free, over-the air broadcast signal. Next Gen TV deploys a more efficient, flexible internet-protocol based data standard, which will transform the public service models for public television.

Public Media Company has assembled a group of 24 public television stations, known as the Public Media Venture Group, that are partnering together to develop, test and deploy new services using Next Gen TV, and WKAR is taking on this leadership role as a test station with full support of the Public Media Venture Group.

WKAR is a public radio and public television station owned and operated by Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, serving the East Lansing community. WKAR is a nationally recognized innovator in using technology to advance public media service; for example, WKAR recently launched the PBS Kids Playtime Pad Research Project, an outreach and research partnership that brings together PBS KIDS, MSU researchers and the Lansing School District in a multi-year effort that provides an educational gaming tablet for every Lansing kindergartner. The project investigates the effectiveness of tablet-based learning initiatives in early childhood math literacy.

“Next Gen TV has great potential to enhance how public media serves its communities,” said Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “MSU and WKAR intend to extend our leadership in local media and education research and development to study this extremely promising technology in depth and in the field.”

With the experimental ATSC 3.0 station as a testbed, MSU will open the NEXTGEN Media Innovation Lab, a new research facility to serve as a collaborative hub exploring the potential of ATSC 3.0. Capitalizing on MSU’s expertise in early childhood education, early projects from the lab will focus on the use of NextGen media to improve childhood education, testing new models of intervention for elementary math and literacy.

Additionally, the research lab will help public television stations test ATSC 3.0 applications and develop business- and mission-linked opportunities, with an emphasis on outcomes related to public service applications such as education, health, local news and emergency alerting; plus, new areas such as connected and autonomous vehicles.

“It’s a wide open field,” said Marc Hand. “Deploying our partner WKAR as a test site for Next Gen TV is just one demonstration of how Public Media Company and the Public Media Venture Group intend to move aggressively to leverage Next Gen TV to the benefit of communities across the U.S.”