The association tells the FCC that “Microsoft is asking the commission to grant it spectrum for free, with no buildout requirements or service requirements of any kind — substantially better terms than winning auction bidders received.”
The commission’s proposal to reserve up to two UHF channels for unlicensed devices in the shrunken, post-auction TV band could hinder the adoption of ATSC 3.0 and hurt low-power TV stations’ chances of survival, according to NAB and other broadcasters. “In many ways, it’s one of the most insidious [anti-broadcaster] initiatives the FCC has put on the table,” says Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Mark Aitken.
If meeting the 39-month deadline to repack spectrum following next year’s auction becomes a problem, Chairman Tom Wheeler said today, the FCC will “work it out” with the broadcasters. “This is not a drop-off-the-edge-of-the-table situation…. I totally agree on the importance of local community broadcasting and why it has to remain after the auction.”
Getting the Bay Area transmission facility ready for the spectrum repack that will follow the FCC’s spectrum auction will be one of the trickiest in the country. That’s because of the sheer number of unknowns that must be anticipated and planned for, and the only 39 months the FCC has set in which to complete the work. But the structure’s owners and engineers are planning for all contingencies.
The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology today released the final version of its TVStudy software, which calculates TV station coverage areas for use in the spectrum auction and repacking. In addition, it also released a 65-page table laying out its coverage area calculations for TV stations across the country using the final version of the TVStudy software.
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Engineers and wireless equipment vendors say the FCC’s plans to reduce and limit frequencies for wireless devices following the spectrum repack next year are going to cause a myriad of problems. The commission’s proposals are “not a workable solution,” says engineer Louis Libin.
Estimates of the cost of the TV band repack following the FCC’s incentive auction next year range from $250 million to $1.25 billion more than the $1.75 billion the government has set aside.
The FCC’s Media Bureau has designated May 29 as the date by which certain full-power and Class A TV stations must have a license application on file with the FCC in order for their modified facilities to be protected in the repacking process following the spectrum incentive auction. While the FCC earlier concluded that full-power and Class A TV facilities licensed by Feb. 22, 2012, would be protected in the repacking, it envisioned protection of TV facilities licensed after that date in a few specific situations. It is to this latter group that this May 29 deadline applies.
One scenario that would allow broadcasters to reduce their costs as they transition to ATSC 3.0 is to synchronize the switch with the FCC’s upcoming incentive auction. The auction will free up broadcast spectrum for wireless companies. Stations that don’t take part in the auction and continue broadcasting could be forced to move to a […]
A couple of months ago we reported on two proceedings, initiated simultaneously, looking into possible solutions to the problems that the upcoming repack of the spectrum will cause to wireless microphone users and manufacturers as well as various other users of the TV spectrum. While technically separate and distinct dockets, the two proceedings have obviously been linked from Day One. And now the FCC has announced, in a single consolidated order, that the comment deadlines for both proceedings have been extended.
After the FCC conducts its incentive auction of 600 MHz TV spectrum in early 2016, the amount of available spectrum for wireless mic operation — in diminishing supply now — could become even scarcer. Less spectrum means fewer unused TV channels for wireless mics and a whole series of other wireless devices generally lumped into the wireless mic category, including wireless intercoms, IFB cueing systems and in-ear monitors used by musicians and other entertainers. In addition, switching to new equipment could be costly for broadcasters. (Photo: AP/Charles Sykes)
Late Friday, the FCC released a Public Notice stating that “[e]ffective immediately, the expiration dates and construction deadlines for all outstanding unexpired construction permits for new digital low-power television and TV translator stations are hereby suspended.” The FCC simultaneously released a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a number of issues related to the transition of LPTV stations to digital and their fate in the post-auction spectrum repacking.
Reps. Joe Barton and Anna Eshoo especially want to know how many LPTVs and translators — which don’t have the same protections that full-power stations have in the auctions — will be able to continue operating on replacement channels after the FCC auction’s repacking of the TV band.
In response to a request by the NAB, the commission has made available the technical data for in its various repacking simulations.
An examination of the FCC’s 484 pages of incentive auction rules shows the commission has rejected a proposal to allow a blanket waiver for all a group’s stations if the group turned down federal reimbursement for moving. In addition, the FCC made clear that it believes it has wiggle room under Congress’ mandate that it make “all reasonable efforts” to preserve the coverage areas and populations served by stations required to move to new channels during the repacking.
In a May 7 letter to the FCC, the NAB, the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, the National Religious Broadcasters and the National Translator Association “urge the commission to do everything in its power to ensure that the important benefits of LPTVs and TV translators are not undermined as a result of the incentive auction.”
Among the many commenters on the spectrum repack proposals submitted to the FCC are ones from broadcasters, engineers and tower and equipment firms that feel the proposed timeline is inadequate. Also filing are DirecTV and Dish Network, which expressed satisfaction with the report as it is.
The NAB and equipment manufacturer GatesAir tell the FCC in comments that the 39 months the FCC is considering giving broadcasters to complete the spectrum repack following next year’s incentive auction is not enough time. In addition, other concerns include how the agency will approach the reimbursement of expenses incurred by stations required to change channels.
They worry that the timeline proposed for moving stations to new channel assignments following the FCC’s incentive auction is too short. The number of stations that may be required to change channels as part of the repack may exceed the industry’s capaciy to hang antennas, says consultant Jay Adrick. “There are only 14 tower crews in the United States.”
At a meeting at CPB’s headquarters in Washington, Harry Hawkes of Booz & Co.’s media and technology practice told CPB board members that if the FCC goes ahead with plans to clear 120 MHz of spectrum for use by mobile devices, 110 to 130 pubcasters will need to shift their channels due to repacking even if they don’t participate in the auction.
The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition says the commission needs to generate more data on how the upcoming spectrum auction and band repacking will affect low-power TV stations before moving forward.
In ex parte comments with the commission, the group enouraged the agency to hold hearings on various aspects of the incentive auction such as its impact on diverse communities, and detailed the consequences of the three-month-old freeze on broadcast TV station modification applications.
Paul Broyles, president of the International Broadcasting Network, says the pending spectrum auction and subsequent channel repack will lead to the demise of the entire television broadcasting industry. These are his reasons why.
With the FCC’s incentive auction and repack moving forward, many LPTV broadcasters worry about what the agency’s continuing silence about their service portends Says attorney Peter Tannenwald: The FCC “is basically ignoring low-power TV, and therefore, no low-power TV station, right now, knows whether it’s going to be able to survive.”
Bill Lake, the FCC’s Media Bureau Chief, told the standards group that ATSC 3.0 — the next-generation and non-backwards compatible television standard — can’t be completed and deployed without holding up the spectrum auction and channel repack.
Association executives brief reporters on the group’s formal comments to the FCC on its incentive auction plans. CEO Gordon Smith emphasizes: “This should not be done in a rush; it should be done with deliberate speed; it’s more important to get this done right than to get it done right now.” NAB vows to protect stations that choose not to participate and fight to preserve the coverage and population areas of stations that are forced to move.
The FCC is trying to figure out how to handle bidding as broadcasters put a price on vacating spectrum so it can be sold to wireless companies. More than one type of auction process is under consideration, so broadcasters are being urged to file comments on what would work best.
That’s the word from FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake who says making public the algorithm from which they are derived is enough since the commission continues to “refine our approach to that as we move into the [spectrum auction] rulemaking.” For all that’s going on at NAB 2012, click here.
While the FCC hopes to take back some of TV’s valuable space by tempting broadcasters to voluntarily put it up for auction, it’s also threatening to get some by repacking the band. But what’s most galling is that it still hasn’t released its repacking models that spell out exactly what it wants to do. They’ve been “forthcoming” since March.
Next Tuesday, Nov. 30, the FCC will launch its rulemaking aimed at freeing up broadcast spectrum through repacking of the band and channel sharing. It will look for ways to improve the VHF band, suggesting that the FCC intends to drive more stations into the band as part of the repacking scheme.