Like AT&T, the broadcast group says the most logical way to conduct the post-auction repacking of the TV band later this year is on a regional basis with the most populated regions going first. "Prioritizing the most highly populated markets will...minimize viewer disruption and confusion."
NAB Urges TV Band Repack By Region
Seconding a proposal of AT&T, the NAB today urged the FCC to take a regional approach in repacking the down-sized TV band following the incentive auction later this year.
The regional approach — repacking one region of the country at a time — is the logical way to go, the trade association says in a letter to the FCC.
It would minimize disruption of service to broadcasters and viewers and get the spectrum in the hands of the wireless buyers “as quickly as possible,” it says.
The regional plan should focus on the most populated regions first, it says.
“Delaying commencement of work in these markets may mean leaving the most complex transition projects until the end of the process, which risks creating extensive and otherwise avoidable delays in clearing the most valuable markets for forward auction bidders.
“Prioritizing the most highly populated markets will also help ensure that broadcasters in those markets can engineer a smooth cut over to their new channels, which will minimize viewer disruption and confusion.”
At the same time,it says, the regional plan “must be flexible and capable of rapid recalibration.
“While we support beginning work in the most populated regions and markets first, there will inevitably be instances where work must be performed in less populated markets to allow more crowded markets to transition.”
The NAB also calls on the FCC to prepare to the repacking and to be prepared to use its authority to settle disputes.
“The FCC will be indispensable in creating a plan for the transition, because there is likely to be disagreement both between, but more importantly within, the affected industries as to the appropriate path forward,” it says.
“For example, wireless carriers may disagree concerning which markets should be prioritized based on which markets are most important to individual carriers’ deployment priorities.”
In the incentive auction that begins next month, the FCC plans to buy the spectrum of hundreds of stations and then turn around and sell it to wireless carriers. Many of the hundreds of stations that choose not to participate in the auction will be assigned new channels in the smaller TV band.
They are the chief concern of the NAB.
“A smooth, well-coordinated and efficient transition will reduce disruption to viewers, make better use of limited resources, and help clear spectrum more quickly for use by winning bidders in the forward auction,” the NAB says.
“Without a plan in place, problems that could have been avoided will not be.”