Sprint Nextel, the NAB, the Association for Maximum Service Television and the Society of Broadcast Engineers ask the FCC again to move to next February the deadline for all stations to move their digital ENG operations to new frequencies.
Sprint Nextel, the NAB, the Association for Maximum Service Television and the Society of Broadcast Engineers last night renewed their joint request to the FCC to extend the Broadcast Auxiliary Service relocation completion date to Feb. 7, 2010.
The groups noted that 36 percent of BAS licensees have completed the transition. The transitioned licensees span 76 television markets covering approximately 104 million people. In those markets yet to be transitioned, hundreds of licensees have already installed replacement BAS equipment or are actively working with vendors and manufacturers to complete the equipment ordering and installation process.
Great strides have been made since the parties filed their original extension request, the filing says. Nearly all BAS licensees (99 percent) have submitted purchase orders for their BAS replacement equipment; 59 percent of BAS licensees have all of the equipment necessary to relocate; and 46 percent of BAS licensees have installed their equipment, a 557 percent increase from September 2007.
Once transitioned, nearly all broadcasters are finding that the new equipment provides better picture quality and enables remote shots in areas that previously experienced at best marginal electronic newsgathering coverage. Despite the challenges of transitioning an entire industry from 30 years of analog ENG systems to new digital ENG equipment, the program is accelerating toward completion with improved ENG results for broadcasters and their viewers.
But, the filing continued, despite the ongoing good faith efforts of Sprint Nextel and the vast majority of broadcasters, it is now clear that completing the BAS transition will require until February 2010 as described in the joint parties’ original waiver request.
As the FCC has recognized, it says, numerous factors beyond the control of the joint parties has caused unanticipated delays.
Some specific reasons include the complexity of the BAS transition, the impact of weather and other disasters, avoiding disruption to broadcast operations, broadcaster bankruptcies and delays in the DTV transition.
It said: “The limited number of BAS equipment manufacturers, installers, tower climbers, and other vendors still struggle to confront the unique surge in demand for their services at the same time that the DTV transition is competing for their services, a situation that will unexpectedly continue for several months due to the recent delay of the DTV transition.”
The filing concludes: “The joint parties remain committed to completing the BAS transition as quickly as possible. Broadcasters require electronic newsgathering operations to switch to digital and wish to eliminate the potential for interference caused by new services to be deployed in the 1990-2025 MHz band. These incentives, along with the substantial progress to date, demonstrate that Sprint Nextel and the broadcast community continue to take all steps within their control to complete the BAS transition as expeditiously as possible.”