Posts tagged ‘FCC’
The upcoming spectrum incentive auctions have been a closely monitored issue on this blog, and it was the topic of a recent speech given by NAB’s Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning Rick Kaplan, one of the top experts on spectrum policy. Earlier this week, Kaplan spoke at the Media Institute’s Communications Forum luncheon, focusing on key issues that need to be addressed before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moves forward with the auction.
Kaplan reaffirmed that broadcasters’ goal is to see the spectrum auction done right and with minimal impact on TV viewers so that stations can get on with the business of serving their local communities in traditional and innovative ways.
The FCC’s proposed spectrum incentive auction is the first of its kind, in which the government will offer some number of TV stations money in exchange for their spectrum (airwaves) licenses. In a process known as “repacking,” the TV stations that remain (those that do not want to go out of business) may be shuffled around by the FCC, as the government tries to free up large chunks of contiguous spectrum (airwaves) for wireless companies to use. This very complex process is what concerns TV broadcasters and viewers most. If not executed properly by the government, many TV viewers could be impacted and some will lose their free, local TV service.
In his speech, Kaplan noted the complex task that lies before the FCC, and pointed out some tough economic, engineering and policy questions that need to be addressed, such as:
- How will the FCC attract volunteers (stations that will turn in their spectrum licenses) and determine how much to pay them?
- How can we efficiently and effectively coordinate with Canada and Mexico (where U.S. airwaves overlap) to ensure that TV viewers in border states are not harmed?
- How is the FCC going to reimburse stations that are forced to move in the repacking phase and do so within their budget and the tight timeframe following the auction?
These questions are just a few that must be addressed by the FCC. If not carefully thought out and properly implemented, the spectrum auction will fail either because there will not be enough volunteers to give up spectrum or because the outcome of the auction could result in widespread harmful interference among both television and wireless services.
Kaplan also discussed some of the very challenging engineering questions the agency has yet to address. Most pressing is the FCC’s proposal to take different amounts of spectrum from TV broadcasters in different markets. Kaplan explained why this would lead to massive interference between broadcasters and wireless companies, potentially undermining the entire auction and leaving viewers in the dark.
To avoid this, Kaplan proposed four basic steps to maximize the likelihood of achieving useable and worthwhile nationwide bands of spectrum (airwaves) for the wireless industry:
- First, the FCC should lay out a number of nationwide repacking scenarios explaining how they could shuffle TV stations following the auction. This involves looking at a variety of options and focusing in particular on the more congested television markets.
- Second, from these scenarios the FCC can determine how many stations it needs to participate in the auction to achieve certain spectrum targets, and where those stations must be.
- Third, the FCC should estimate how much revenue it would, under each scenario, raise nationwide in a spectrum auction.
- And finally, the FCC should take its nationwide estimate and use those funds to ensure it entices volunteers in the markets where it really requires participants.
Kaplan ended his remarks by urging the FCC to work closely with all stakeholders in the auction process. To read Kaplan’s remarks in their entirety, please click here.
Broadcasters’ number one concern is for our TV viewers and ensuring that stations can continue to provide services – both traditional and new, such as mobile TV – for those who rely on free, local television.
The Future of TV Blog has been actively covering the latest developments on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) incentive auction process, providing television viewers with information they need to know.
This week, the National Association of Broadcasters filed its second set of comments in response to the FCC’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the spectrum incentive auctions that was released last fall. The principle theme of these comments is that the auction must be based more on sound engineering principles rather than economic theories.
Here are some highlights from NAB’s comments:
- Repacking broadcast stations simply to maximize spectrum recovery could do permanent damage to local TV service – especially in western states that rely heavily on translators.
- Moving forward with the FCC’s proposed band plan would cause serious interference problems for stations, wireless companies and viewers.
- Free, over-the-air television is a lifeline for millions of Americans. These viewers include traditionally underserved communities – people of color, foreign language speakers and lower income Americans. They stand to lose the most if the Commission repacks too aggressively.
- Protecting television viewers should be of paramount importance. There are still few details from the FCC about how the repacking process will be conducted. NAB urges a transparent process that preserves viewers’ access to the local television stations on which they rely.
The National Association of Broadcasters’ executive vice president of Strategic Planning, Rick Kaplan, broadcasters’ foremost expert and advocate on the upcoming broadcast spectrum auctions, addressed some of the concerns raised in these points in an earlier blog that focused on five main areas that local television stations – and their viewers – should watch as the FCC takes on the unprecedented task of auctioning broadcast TV spectrum.
Rest assured, we’ll continue to keep you updated on this issue. TV stations will continue to work closely with the FCC to ensure that the spectrum auction process follows the intent of Congress and that free, local television remains an indispensable service for the American people.
Continue reading the future of TV blog for all the latest updates on this issue and others that impact free, local broadcast TV.
This week, hundreds of broadcasters from across the country are in the nation’s capital to meet with their members of Congress.
This annual call on Congress serves as an opportunity to educate legislators on the issues that impact local stations and their communities.
With nearly 500 broadcasters descending on Capitol Hill, broadcasters are committed to doing everything within their power to ensure that viewers’ access to the news, emergency updates and entertainment they rely on each day is not jeopardized.
Ironically, this week a major snow storm is also hitting the D.C. area, serving as another reminder of the indispensable role local TV and radio stations play in times of weather emergency.
In addition to broadcasters’ lifeline role in providing important information to Americans, broadcasters are discussing the upcoming spectrum incentive auction process with their legislators. Broadcasters are stressing the need for the FCC to adhere to the intent of Congress and ensure that free, local television remains an indispensable service for the American people.
For information on what you can do to keep broadcast TV free and accessible for everyone to enjoy, click here.
The National Association of Broadcasters’ executive vice president of Strategic Planning, Rick Kaplan, is broadcasters’ foremost expert and advocate on the upcoming broadcast spectrum auctions. The Federal Communications Commission is currently planning the auction and has indicated it will take place next year. Kaplan offers five main areas that local television stations – and their viewers – should watch as the FCC takes on the unprecedented task of auctioning broadcast TV spectrum.
Coordination Along the Border. To free up nationwide bands of spectrum for mobile broadband, the FCC must update its agreements with Canada and Mexico that currently hamstring the agency’s ability to relocate broadcast stations operating within 250 miles of the border. If the commission fails to reach some agreement—as the statute requires—the auction will yield less money for the Treasury, strand stations along the border and lead to significant and harmful interference issues for television viewers in border regions.
Repacking Part I. The FCC has offered little details as to how it plans to shuffle the remaining television stations following the auction (known as “repacking”). The Commission is currently creating what will surely be extremely complex new software to run the imminent auction and repacking process, throwing out the program they used during the 2009 transition to digital television. Unfortunately, the new program will not have been tested. Broadcast stations should have the ability to test the software and provide feedback to the FCC to ensure their viewers are not harmed during the repacking process.
Repacking: The Sequel. The Spectrum Act, passed by Congress in 2012, compels the FCC to take “all reasonable efforts” to preserve a stations’ coverage area and protect the existing viewers it serves. Broadcasters should be mindful of how and by whom this is interpreted. The proposed FCC rulemaking included some options that could have a detrimental impact on these coverage areas, broadcast stations and their current viewers. The National Association of Broadcasters offered modifications that would give the FCC some more flexibility, and broadcasters will continue to aggressively advocate that their viewers should not lose access to local stations due to the FCC repacking process.
The TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. Broadcast stations that don’t participate in the auction are rightly concerned about being compensated if they are forced to move. In the Spectrum Act, Congress sought to make the auction as “voluntary” as possible, giving the FCC a $1.75 billion budget to repack and reimburse broadcasters that are forced to move. The FCC, however, doesn’t seem to consider the fund as a budget, meaning there could be out-of-pocket costs for every broadcaster forced to move – those costs could mean less local programming and community service for stations and their viewers.
The Variable Band Plan. The proposed FCC rulemaking recommends creating different band plans in different markets (based on the amount of spectrum it can recover in each). But this is likely to cause major interference for viewers in adjacent markets between broadcasters and wireless carriers operating on the same channels for the first time.
Broadcasters are watching all these issues closely, and working with the FCC and Congress to ensure that as the Commission auctions the broadcast airwaves, viewers continue to have the local TV on which they rely for news, emergency information and great entertainment.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) upcoming spectrum auctions remain one of the top issues facing local television stations and their viewers.
What does this mean, and how could it impact your access to your free, local broadcast TV?
The government is encouraging TV stations in certain places to put their airwaves up for bid and, in return, share in the expected profit with the government. The bidders will be wireless companies eager for more spectrum. Congress intended this to be a voluntary process, and your local TV stations are under no obligation to participate, but serious questions and concerns remain. Even if stations choose not to participate, they could go off the air for some viewers after the auction.
The major challenge is that following the auction, the FCC may involuntarily move stations to create a larger swath of spectrum for wireless companies. Broadcasters want to be sure that as stations are moved (or “repacked”) viewers continue to have the same access to the local stations that they depend on for emergency information, news and entertainment each day.
Recently, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) – the association in Washington, D.C. representing local TV stations and networks – filed comments with the FCC regarding the upcoming spectrum incentive auction.
Broadcasters emphasized that ensuring viewers have the same access to free over-the-air TV should be of paramount importance during the spectrum auction process. This was important to highlight, because the FCC did not list protecting TV viewers as one of its initial goals for the auction. Broadcasters made clear that the FCC should follow the intent of Congress and those stations that choose not to participate should not be harmed in any way. Additionally, broadcasters want to ensure that their ability to innovate and expand services such as ultra-high definition television and mobile TV that benefit consumers are not jeopardized.
The FCC is currently reviewing all the comments it received on the auction process, and we are hopefully that commissioners will make protecting local TV viewers a priority as it moves forward with the auction process. We’ll continue to keep you updated on this issue. TV stations will continue to work closely with the FCC to ensure that the spectrum auction process follows the intent of Congress and that free, local television remains an indispensable service for the American people.
Continue reading the future of TV blog for all the latest updates on this issue and others that impact free, local broadcast TV.
On Friday, September 28, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will meet to discuss the first steps toward implementing the upcoming spectrum incentive auction. What does that mean, and how could it impact your access to free, local broadcast television? Read on.
The government is encouraging TV stations to put their airwaves up for bid and in return share in the profit. Why? Because wireless companies want more airwaves (also called spectrum), and spectrum is a finite resource. To learn more about spectrum click here.
As part of this process, your local broadcast TV stations must make the decision to keep their airwaves and stay in business, give up part of their airwaves and share spectrum with another TV station, or put all of their airwaves up to bid and cease broadcasting.
A lot of questions remain unanswered, and TV stations continue to seek clarification on how you – the viewer – are likely to be affected by the spectrum auction. Because after the auction is complete, the FCC will ask some stations to relocate to new channels (this is called “repacking”). During that process we want to ensure that your local television stations remain available to you with no disruption in service.
In Friday’s meeting, the FCC will vote to suggest the best approaches for the logistics of the upcoming auction: conducting the initial airwaves purchase; the reassignment of stations in markets around the country; and the auction to wireless providers. We look forward to learning more from the FCC about the auction process so that we can best advocate on behalf of our viewers. We want to ensure that your ability to access the local news, information and entertainment you value is not compromised.
Following the September 28 meeting, and as the FCC moves forward with implementing the auction, we’ll keep you up to date here, so check back frequently.
The spectrum auction process is currently underway at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but many questions remain as to how the auctions will be conducted and how viewers will be affected.
To that end, the president of the National Association of Broadcasters – the association representing local TV stations and networks in Washington, D.C. – sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reiterating that the incentive auction could directly impact the growing number of Americans that rely exclusively on free, local television and future innovation in the broadcast band.
Television stations are advocating for a fully transparent process to ensure that the impact on their viewers is minimized. Once the auction is conducted, stations may be shuffled around to create a larger swath of spectrum for wireless companies to purchase. Broadcasters want to be sure as stations are moved (or, “repacked”) viewers continue to have access to their local stations and the amount of time stations must be off the air due to moving is kept to a minimum.
To learn more about these channel moves, see this Broadcast Engineering story entitled: Channel relocation could create ‘chaos’ without proper planning.
TV stations will continue to work closely with the FCC to ensure that the spectrum auction process follows the intent of Congress and that free, local television remains an indispensable service for the American people.