FCC paves way for 4K over-the-air TV broadcasting

Broadcasters can adopt the long-tested Next Generation TV standard.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

4K films and TV shows have been relegated to streaming services and on-demand media, but the FCC just paved the way for television broadcasters to show programming in the ultra high resolution. The commission adopted new rules today that allow companies to use the Next Generation TV broadcast standard (aka ATSC 3.0) on a 'voluntary, market-driven basis,' according to the FCC press release.

Communication and tech companies have spent years tinkering with the technologies that would enable consumers to get 4K media through television channels. The FCC's new rules make this a reality that will enable broadcasters to show programming on 4K over the 6 MHz channels reserved for digital TV (DTV).

But the commission established a few requirements to make the transition to the Next Generation TV standard a little easier. Broadcasters wishing to adopt ATSC 3.0 must pair with a local station that will simulcast the same programming in the current standard (ATSC 1.0) for DTV, as well as informing customers of the changes. Next Gen TV signals are subject to the same public interest obligations as any other broadcast TV.