After three years of consistent support, LG is planning to ditch ATSC 3.0 tuners due to a patent dispute with a company called Constellation Designs LLC.
At the heart of the dispute, summarized in a letter from LG to the FCC, is that because of the patent case, there will be a price increase in royalties from $3.00 to $6.75 for each LG TV sold with an ATSC 3.0 tuner.
“This challenging and uncertain patent landscape has forced LG to make the difficult decision to suspend the inclusion of ATSC 3.0-compatibility in its 2024 television lineup for the United States,” says LG in its statement to the FCC. “This decision was not made lightly, because LG has been a vocal ATSC 3.0 advocate, a strong supporter of local broadcasters, and a leading developer of television products with the latest NEXTGEN TV technologies."
The list of TVs currently with an ATSC 3.0 tuner includes the LG G3 OLED, LG M3 OLED and high-end LG Z3 8K OLED TV. What LG is saying in its letter, however, is that future models in those series like the inevitable LG G4, M4 and Z4 would then no longer support NextGen TV technology if the FCC doesn’t step in.
Will we see LG revert to ATSC 1.0 tuners?
While LG is certainly threatening to remove ATSC 3.0 tuners in its next generation of flagship OLED TVs, it’s hard to predict if the company will actually follow through with it — threatening to drop ATSC 3.0 tuners might just be LG's way of trying to get the FCC to step in and side with it in the patent dispute.
If LG does ditch ATSC 3.0 tuners, then its flagship TVs might seem a little less premium compared to rival Samsung and Sony TVs that do choose to include one. It could also mean that customers looking for NextGen TV support will keep buying older models instead of newer ones should LG revert to an ATSC 1.0 tuner.
What feels most likely, to me at least, is that LG will keep ATSC 3.0 tuners in its flagship TVs, but will then allocate the extra cost of the tuners onto customers. That might be as innocuous as a $25-$50 price increase in next year’s models compared to this year’s models, or it could be a much larger number.
Again, at this point, it’s hard to predict how it will all play out.