Tablo 4K OTA DVR delay reveals first generation of ATSC 3.0 devices could be downgraded soon

Over-the-air antenna television in the United States is in the early stages of transitioning to the ATSC 3.0 standard (sometimes called ‘NextGen’ TV), which enables interactive TV, 4K resolution support, and other features. Many broadcasters already support the new technology, and there are a few DVR boxes and TVs with compatible tuners, but the first generation of ATSC 3.0 devices could soon be blocked out from receiving the standard they were built for.

Tablo revealed the first four-tuner DVR box with ATSC 3.0 support earlier this year, during CES 2022, with the ability to watch and record up to four different stations at once with 4K support. The device was intended to start shipping in the spring, but Cord Cutters News reports that the company is sending an email to customers informing them of a delay.

The email reads, “broadcast station ownership groups have indicated their intent to encrypt ATSC 3.0 signals using Digital Rights Management (DRM) beginning as early as this summer. To ensure that the Tablo ATSC 3.0 QUAD OTA DVR can display and record ATSC 3.0 content, even when broadcast signals are encrypted, we need to complete the development and certification of DRM software for the device. DRM decryption keys MUST be installed on the Tablo during manufacturing and cannot be added via later firmware updates.”

Devices currently built for ATSC 3.0 won’t actually be compatible with most ATSC 3.0 stations as soon as this summer.

Tablo expects the DRM-ready DVR box will take several more months to ship, due to the new certification requirements and a beta testing period for the new functionality. That’s not great news for anyone who already ordered the box, but it’s even worse news for anyone who already bought a TV or DVR box with the goal of watching 4K broadcasts for years to come. If Tablo’s statement about broadcasters rolling out DRM support is accurate, and if existing boxes and TVs from other manufacturers can’t be updated with the DRM keys, devices currently built for ATSC 3.0 won’t actually be compatible with most ATSC 3.0 stations as soon as this summer.

RabbitEars is tracking TV stations in over 50 markets that either already support ATSC 3.0 or have requested FCC approval to do so. Several TVs and set-top boxes with the feature were revealed at CES 2022, including TVs from Hisense, Sony, Samsung, and LG.

Source: Cord Cutters News

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