Dingell Wants Spectrum Answers From FCC

Rep. John Dingell is skeptical of the FCC's plan to auction off up to 120 MHz of the TV spectrum to wireless broadband providers and he has asked the commission for answers to a series of questions by June 27.

House Energy and Commerce Committee member John Dingell (D-Mich.) wants to know when the FCC will release broadcast engineering models that predict the impact the agency’s broadcast spectrum auction plan with have on broadcasting and its viewers.

“[T]his analysis would be helpful to the Congress … in understanding the implications of spectrum reclamation” as it considers authorizing legislation, Dingell writes in an open letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Like many broadcasters, Dingell is skeptical of the plan, by which the FCC proposes to auction off up to 120 MHz of the TV spectrum to wireless broadband providers. The FCC hopes to entice broadcasters to contribute spectrum to the auction by allowing them to share in the proceeds.

Among the broadcasters’ chief concerns is what affect the auction and the subsequent shuffling of channel assignments or repacking will have on the coverage of the stations that choose to hang on to all their spectrum.

The FCC has been working on the models since before it formally unveiled its spectrum auction plan in March 2010. At the NAB convention in April, FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake conceded that the models were overdue, but said it was because they were being improved and that they would be released “in the next few months.”

In his letter, Dingell asks a series of questions, giving the FCC until June 27 to reply:


  • Assuming no stations will be required to move into the low VHF band and no surviving TV stations will lose coverage, what are the general implications of reclaiming 120 MHz for the auction? How many TV stations would have to share a channel or go off the air? (The recover spectrum, the FCC is encouraging stations to either give up their channels or share channels with other stations.)
  • How many stations in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region and San Francisco/Los Angeles will have to share or go off the air?
  • How many stations would have to be moved to a new channel?
  • What are the answers to above question, assuming the FCC reclaims just 90 MHz? 60 MHz? 30MHz?
  • For each of the reclamation scenarios, how many TV viewers will lose service and how many channels with they lose?

Comments (6)

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Ellen Samrock says:

June 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm

These are all excellent questions. Broadcasters have been flying blind on this whole issue because the FCC has been reluctant to address these basic concerns. I might add one more question: what will be the predicted impact to LPTV and translators?

len Kubas says:

June 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm

the last sentence on the first bullet point doesn’t read right, Harry

Meagan Zickuhr says:

June 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Amen Dingell!

Ren Ray says:

June 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I’d also like to know how much unused spectrum is currently not being used by broadband companies and the government. That question has never been clearly answered.

Warren Harmon says:

June 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm

All RIGHT, Dingle got this one right!

Amy Davis says:

June 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Let’s quit kidding ourselves…you have a Chairman of the FCC that’s anti-TV. He’d take the whole damn spectrum if he could, but his hands are tied to only 120MHz.. No one is getting any plans ’til HE decides that there WON’T be enough time for anyone to put up a defense against the so-called “Internet-shortage” this chicken-little consort w/Obama wants everyone to believe. The spectrum is already there…it’s the “free OTA” folks his ilk and kind want to eliminate. If there’s no “free” outlet for expresion, “someone” gets to control the “message” or access to the materials via “portals” – And Congress is just sitting on their hands (with their thumbs appropriately inserted) and waiting for the “…all powerfull OZ” of media to tell them what’s what. Instead, we’re given a red light UNTIL HE wants us to see what this whole plan is about. Well sheeple…when it’s too late, the horse will be out of the barn (already served at fine dining establishments in your home town), the cat will be out of the bag (making a nice and tasty appetizer for this evening’s festivities) and no one will realize that the 5h!t already hit that fan… Film at 11? ‘Fraid not…it’s now on ByouBTube and going viral. Free OTA has died an ignorant death…

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