Public broadcasters continue to press the FCC to ensure that the upcoming repacking of spectrum does not create “white areas” where over-the-air viewers would lose access to public television.
While waiting for the FCC to repack the band and hand out new channel assignments, TV stations should not be idle. Here is a list of things they can start doing now to head off trouble later.
Gray Television and Sinclair Broadcast Group are willing to give up channel repacking funds following the spectrum auction if that means it will let them continue innovating with other technologies outside the approved generation of ATSC, according to a letter filed with the FCC today.
Unless protections are adopted, TV broadcasters and equipment makers say the FCC’s proposed spectrum auction and subsequent band repacking could reduce or eliminate wireless frequencies needed to cover live breaking news and other events.
The FCC wants to hear from broadcasters on how much they should be reimbursed for changing channels after a spectrum auction and channel repack. The FCC is required, under legislation, to pay broadcasters for any costs incurred as part of the repacking process.
The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology has released version 1.2.7 of its TVStudy software that will be used in the modeling and analysis necessary to repack the TV spectrum. The new version allows studies of potential interference between U.S. stations and stations in Canada and Mexico (on proxy channels, of course) and cleans up a couple of bugs that had apparently surfaced in the earlier version.
The FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force recently released a number of materials relating to TVStudy, the software that FCC engineers devised to assist them in the modeling and analysis necessary to repack the TV spectrum. Unfortunately, the materials are a bit, um, technical in nature, so unless you’re well-versed in a lot of sophisticated engineering stuff you’re likely to have a hard time understanding what’s what. No problem. Mike Rhodes, P.E., of the engineering firm of Cavell, Mertz and Associates, has come to the rescue.
Democratic senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand expressed concern to the Secretary of State that the FCC may have to reduce coverage areas of stations along the New York-Canadian border as a result of spectrum repacking, “thereby depriving American citizens of access to the signals of their favorite stations.” The senators want the State Department to assign responsibility for conducting the coordination with Canada and “get the process under way without delay.”