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6 News WOWT now on NEXTGEN TV

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 11:01 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - “Effective today, we are operating on a new broadcast standard.”

We’ve all seen the Omaha television towers lined up in north-central Omaha at 72nd Street and Crown Point Avenue.

A digital signal broadcast from here for several years now was the first generation, also known as ATSC 1.0. In addition to Crown Point, now all local TV stations will also broadcast from this lighthouse tower just outside Springfield, located southwest of Omaha. WOWT has installed the equipment to send our signal to that lighthouse tower.

The value of NEXTGEN TV is that it marries over-the-air signal with the internet.

“Right now, broadband is separate from the broadcast signal. This is going to combine the two giving the viewer in their home much more capability with their TV monitors and their sets than what they have right now,” said Jim McKernan, vice president and general manager of 6 News WOWT.

NEXTGEN TV only affects Omaha television’s over-the-air signal — not streaming or cable reception.

“This is the first phase of a process that may take several years,” said Ed Bok, chief engineer at 6 News WOWT.

As NEXTGEN TV moves forward, some viewer benefits will include 4K ultra-high-definition video quality, theater-like sound, potentially improved signal reception, and the capability of additional sub-channels for each station.

“We currently have six streams coming out of our station, so immediately there won’t be any increase in that. But as we make the leap, finally, to a full-blown ATSC 3.0, more sub-channels could be added to that,” Bok said.

And vastly improved mobile reception may soon be possible.

“The old technology really wants you to be in one place — the technology doesn’t allow for being in motion, whereas the newer technology does,” Bok said. “This technology will have a better ability to operate with a mobile device so as you’re traveling in a car, receiving a digital signal you’ll be able to keep seeing the picture as you’re driving.”

A geo-specific emergency alert system is a crucial element of NEXTGEN TV, especially when severe weather hits.

“It will address the people living in that area as to where they can go or what they can do to keep themselves safe from whatever the emergency is,” said McKernan.

Viewers will need to buy a NEXTGEN TV to receive all the features of ATSC 3.0, so if you plan to buy a new set soon, “make sure it says NEXTGEN TV on it,” McKernan said.

“NEXTGEN TV 4K HDR Ultra HD,” Bok said.

Unlike the transition to HD in 2009, there is no end date for our current over-the-air broadcast signal.

“Five years from now, we will turn off what amounts to ATSC 1.0, our current standard and will be all ATSC 3.0,” McKernan said.

Viewers will find the benefits well worth it.

“From a reach standpoint, a content standpoint, and improved technology, this is a giant leap forward — not to be understated at all: a giant leap forward,” McKernan said.

Again, this will only impact our over-the-air and mobile formats.

Omaha is one of 62 television markets across the country in the process of making the switch to NEXTGEN TV.

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