NEW YORK—Hearst Television this month announced the promotion of Stefan Hadl to senior vice president, broadcast engineering and technology.
Hadl, 54, has a long history with the company, rising through the engineering ranks with Hearst where he started in 1995 as a broadcast engineer at KCRA-TV in Sacramento. Since then, Hadl has ascended through the organization achieving more senior engineering positions at a succession of Hearst stations. In 2019, he was promoted to group vice president of engineering working with Marty Faubell, the broadcast group’s longtime top engineer.
In that role, Hadl led the team responsible for maintaining operations during the pandemic, launched more than 40 multicast channels around the country and drove the group’s participation in the rollout of ATSC 3.0. At present, 14 Hearst markets are on-air with NextGen TV.
In this interview, Hadl opens up about the ATSC 3.0 rollout, the challenges and opportunities NextGen TV presents to broadcasters, the evolution of newsgathering technology, Hearst’s technical approach to producing news for multiple different viewer platforms, the group’s efforts to recruit a new generation of people into the technology and engineering ranks of television and what his concerns are for the industry as he takes the reins to lead the group’s engineering and technology direction.
(An edited transcript.)
TVTech: Hearst Television is part of the Pearl TV consortium. How do you characterize the ATSC 3.0 rollout, especially given the delays stemming from the pandemic?
Stefan Hadl: I have to tell you, even though there was the pandemic, we actually have been pretty aggressive. We’ve launched in 14 of our markets already, and by the end of the year we’re hoping to do maybe three more.
So, we’re heavily engaged in participating. We understand that you have to be there to draw in the set manufacturers, all of which are starting to step up, and to give us the opportunity to take a look at 3.0 capabilities and see what we can do.
I think we’ve done pretty well all things considered with regards to the pandemic and getting stations lit up and participating in markets.
We’ve actually created a nice cookie cutter kind of rollout in that both Pearl and BitPath are utilizing the same model. We’ve done a good job, and Joe Addalia and the team on my side, as well as Tom Mikkelsen at BitPath and Rick Hunt on the Pearl side have done a great job of consolidating the checklist of things we need to do. After the first two markets, these things have actually gone really smoothly.
I think we’re being aggressive. I think we need some of the big markets to weigh in. We can only do what we can do as a television group. Our largest market is Boston right now. It is slotted to transition to 3.0 at the end of this year or early first quarter next year. Sacramento is a big market that we’re in. I think it’s moving, but obviously nothing moves fast enough.
TVT: At NAB New York, Pearl TV announced two moves to advance 3.0. One is a FastTrack to accelerate manufacturers building HDMI NextGen TV receiver dongles to enable 1.0 sets with HDMI connectivity to receive 3.0. The other was related to its Run3TV platform, specifically enabling server-side ad insertion. What are your thoughts about these developments?
SH: With regards to the push for the HDMI devices, that’s something that’s needed. You’re not going to …….