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.
Dingell Wants Spectrum Answers From FCC
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?