Posts tagged ‘Over-the-Air’
Polling places across the country are open today for state and local elections, and local television stations have kept the voters headed to the polls informed about the issues impacting their communities. These local stations, many of which sponsored or hosted debates on these important local issues leading up to Election Day, will go wall-to-wall tonight with coverage of the results as they come in.
From debates and campaign news leading up to Election Day, to tonight’s election returns coverage, television viewers can be more informed about those representing their interests in state and local government thanks to free, local broadcasters.
A recent study by Pew Research demonstrated that local TV news remains the dominant way Americans get news at home. Even with numerous choices in the digital age, more Americans trust their local TV stations to bring them the information they need, when and where they want it. That’s the future of TV.
More Americans are checking out mobile TV, the service provided by stations that offers viewers the opportunity to watch broadcast TV – local news, weather, sports and favorite broadcast shows – while on the go and with no data streaming charges.
This week, Dyle TV released a new mobile TV product. This new receiver allows for the delivery of Dyle signals to smartphones and tablets without a converter. Previously, viewers had to purchase a dongle to plug into their smartphone or tablet to watch broadcast TV on-the-go.
This new product is a handheld-sized box with an antennae, which picks up the mobile broadcast signal and wirelessly delivers the signal to a device via Dyle’s app. The app is available for free from the iTunes App store.
This is great news for viewers as this new feature will be released during broadcast TV’s popular fall season. Have you tried mobile TV yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
School buses are back on the roads and there’s a crispness in the air – although the season doesn’t technically begin until September 22, fall is here!
With a new season comes new broadcast programming to enjoy. Thanks to broadcast TV, football fans have the best seat to cheer on their team. Even better? They can watch the game for free with an antenna.
Americans agree: the best shows are on broadcast! Each week, broadcast TV takes top ratings, with viewers tuning in to watch their favorite broadcast shows. In addition to viewer favorites returning – “Glee,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Big Bang Theory,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Parks and Rec” – a batch of new programs will make their debut in the next few weeks. Click here to see the lineup for this fall on broadcast.
And you don’t have to be home to watch your favorite shows. With mobile television, you can watch your favorite shows on the go. Local stations use TV airwaves to deliver their content to your mobile device wherever you are, so you don’t have to worry about buffering from streaming on the Internet or data charges. Interested in watching these offerings and more without an expensive monthly subscription? Click here to learn more about receiving broadcast channels, free and over-the-air.
Broadcast TV brings you the best content – local news, breaking emergency information and your favorite shows – wherever you are.
What are you most looking forward to watching on broadcast TV this fall?
More than 22.4 million American households (representing 59.7 million viewers) receive television exclusively through over-the-air broadcast signals – not a pay service such as cable or satellite. These viewers rely solely on free, broadcast TV for their local news, favorite broadcast programs and emergency information. Without broadcast TV, these rural households, which include farmers, ranchers and small rural communities, would be left without a critical lifeline during times of crisis.
From the devastation created by Hurricane Sandy and the tornadoes in Oklahoma earlier this summer, we have seen the vital role broadcasters play in communities, especially in times of tragedy. Time and time again, local TV and radio stations help warn citizens when a weather emergency is approaching and help rebuild after the storm.
But beyond times of danger, many viewers in rural America depend on local TV and radio to learn of important issues that may affect their livelihoods. Farmers and ranchers especially depend on broadcasters for weather information and agriculture news.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) upcoming first-ever incentive spectrum auction could threaten rural broadcast TV viewers’ access to local channels, because of the low-power stations and TV translators used to deliver broadcast signals. To learn more about how the spectrum auction may impact rural viewers, click here.
Members of Congress realize the importance of broadcast TV in isolated communities that range from mountainous regions to farmland across the country, and are voicing their concerns to the FCC with a letter to Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. We applaud these members of Congress for recognizing the valuable role broadcast TV plays in rural communities.
Guest Blogger: NAB Spectrum Expert Rick Kaplan, Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning
In December, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee conducted an oversight hearing on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) implementation of the Spectrum Act, and specifically the Commission’s work on the upcoming voluntary broadcast incentive auction. One of the most instructive moments of the hearing occurred during a series of questions posed to then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski by Rep. Ed Markey (MA-5). The congressman repeatedly asked Genachowski varying versions of the following questions:
So again, do you have a process that’s totally fair to the broadcasters and to the wireless industry that’s in place? Have you had them in your office simultaneously with their engineers to talk about the issue so that you can hear and your experts can hear the differences which they have?
. . . .
Do you ever have a meeting yourself with the engineers in the room with the other, you know, from all industries you’re sitting there with you? Are engineers hearing the disagreements?
The congressman was pushing the chairman to see if he and/or his staff were taking an active leadership role and directly engaging with industry to tackle this extremely complex proceeding. In effect, he was urging the FCC to drive consensus – to bring stakeholders together to see if there is a sweet spot where those most affected by the auction can find value and buy into the process. Thus, rather than passively perusing the filed comments in a back room and then eventually one day producing a final order seemingly out of thin air, he was suggesting that the FCC should be getting everyone in a room and driving towards a decision.
Had that happened yet at that point? No.
Has it happened in the more than six months since the Commission was urged to do so? No. (That is, unless we count a lone public workshop that was followed up in record time by a Public Notice unsurprisingly having little to do with what was actually achieved at the workshop).
In the absence of a staff process designed to drive consensus through openness, transparency and engagement, however, diverse industries and public interest groups have assembled on our own to work through the various challenges presented by the auction and attendant broadcaster repacking. These conversations have led to a great deal of progress, and even consensus on some major issues.
Have we found unanimity? Of course not. To be clear; reaching consensus is not the same thing as unanimity. Certainly everyone doesn’t have to agree for a general consensus to emerge. Our work has moved the ball far down the field on typically contentious issues. And we believe strongly that the Commission staff should have adopted, and should be adopting, a “get in the room together” approach so we can achieve an expeditious and successful conclusion to the pre-auction process.
Industry and public interest progress is nowhere more apparent than the general consensus that emerged concerning the defining feature of the band plan offered in the original incentive auction Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which widely separated the wireless uplinks and downlinks and placed in between them high-powered broadcast operations. By sitting down together – outside the traditional and somewhat opaque FCC comment process – every company and organization invested in the outcome of the auction (except literally one) agreed that the proposal was an engineering nonstarter. This conclusion was facilitated by broadcast, licensed wireless and unlicensed wireless engineers conferring, sharing information and working towards what would best serve the public interest.
Last Friday, the FCC posted a blog entitled, “A Band Plan that Serves the Public Interest,” which along with some previous staff remarks, appears to imply in response to growing criticism over the staff’s proposed plans, that only the Commission, and not industry or the public interest community, has the public interest truly in mind. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in this instance where what is at stake is delivering high quality broadcast and wireless signals to consumers. Indeed, a band plan in the public interest is most likely to result from a process that engages stakeholders in a meaningful fashion and thoroughly examines all of the thorny issues involved.
We do not appear, however, to be headed in that direction. Most notably, in its unyielding quest and determination for reclaiming variable amounts of spectrum in different markets, the inherent interference consequences of a variable approach are simply being ignored. The staff steadfastly refuses to study the issue with any rigor, model it or even ask a single question about it.
With respect to the challenges of variability, NAB has itself adopted a “getting everyone in the room” philosophy, even without the incentive auction staff leading the way. At stake is significant co- and adjacent channel interference that affects broadcast and wireless operations and arises under most variable band plans. The problem in the most basic terms is this: If Market A (e.g., New York) clears less spectrum than adjacent Market B (e.g., Philadelphia) and therefore Market A continues to have broadcast operations on channel X (e.g., channel 46) while Market B moves to wireless operations on that same channel, the wireless and broadcast operations on that shared channel will interfere with one another. There is no doubt this is a serious issue. And even though the Wireless Bureau dismissed the problem without any analysis (in a nonsensical footnote in its Public Notice), following the bureau’s Public Notice, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Qualcomm, Ericsson and others have joined in to second the notion that further work on the subject is required.
We understand why variability could be of great benefit to the Commission’s auction designers at Stanford, but its potential positives do not necessitate that we should turn a blind eye to inconvenient engineering realities. As we’ve learned from a number of interference missteps in the not-so-distant past, including the frustration on the part of the wireless industry with the interference between channel 51 and the 700 MHz A block, even if you look the other way and pretend there’s nothing to see, interference will come back to bite you where it counts one way or another.
Even though we’ve identified a serious concern, we are not arguing that we are at the end of the variability road. We are merely stating that we’ve identified a potentially fundamental problem and, at the very least, this must be the beginning of the road. It’s not enough to say, as the blog post did, that “[b]y implementing a band plan that supports variation between markets, we would not be forced to limit the auction to the amount of spectrum available in the least cleared markets.” While true, that completely neglects the question precedent of whether, from an engineering perspective, variability is possible or even wise.
Once again, rather than cross our fingers and simply hope that we don’t end up on the wrong end of an uninformed and therefore arbitrary decision, we’ve actively engaged with stakeholders across industries on the issue. We’ve laid out everything we know about co- and adjacent channel interference, not only in filings at the FCC, but in data we’ve openly shared throughout the commercial wireless and unlicensed industries. We have one aim: to figure this issue out, one way or another, so that the Commission can truly have a successful and timely auction.
We have also laid out an alternative plan should the interference inherent in variability not be worth its benefits. Our nationwide non-variable plan incorporates three relatively easy steps:
- After setting a spectrum acquisition target (e.g., 84 MHz), lay out the various nationwide repacking scenarios to determine in what areas the Commission must have volunteers and how many it needs.
- Determine how much revenue will likely be raised from a forward auction from the target amount of nationwide spectrum.
- Use those anticipated (and soon to be realized) funds to pay broadcasters in areas where the spectrum is actually needed, and repack broadcasters to the nationwide spectrum target in markets where no volunteers are needed.
This proposal helps the Commission maximize its use of the information it has up front – where it will, and will not, need participants under various scenarios – and then focus its financial incentive efforts on the areas where volunteers are truly needed. If this is done correctly, we believe the Commission can develop a great wireless band plan that clears the same robust amount in every market (international coordination notwithstanding), and leads to a harmonious balance between broadcasters and wireless operations in the new 600 MHz band. Furthermore, it eliminates the co- and adjacent channel interference threat that looms large under most variable scenarios.
We remain committed to driving a process that is best for the public interest and thankfully the Acting Chair and Commissioners have each made clear that they recognize the need for engagement and balance among industries. By engaging with all stakeholders, we’ve been able to find large areas of general consensus on a number of issues, which should help the Commission move expeditiously in this process. We will continue this push, all with the aim of creating a band plan and auction that serves free, over-the-air broadcast viewers as well as licensed and unlicensed consumers, otherwise known as the public interest.
The Future of TV blog has highlighted the diverse program offerings that broadcast television provides to viewers – from coverage of local sports to Spanish-language programs, broadcast TV has something for everyone to enjoy! The best part is that there are no monthly fees attached – broadcast television is free, you just need an antenna.
Broadcast stations across the country use their side channels (also known as “multi-casting”) to provide viewers with more options at no cost. These side channels cover a variety of genres and interests, including travel, cooking, home improvement, sports and religious-focused programming.
With Passover and Easter taking place this week, remember to check your local broadcast stations’ side channels for religious programming, and enjoy a service from the comfort of your own home.
Illinois and Nevada state legislatures recently passed legislation that recognizes the important role of local broadcast stations during times of crisis. The new laws, which help broadcasters stay on-air during emergencies, reinforce that local radio and TV stations are often the only place to turn for critical information during difficult times.
First informer laws ensure individual broadcasters (key personnel such as a news anchor or cameraman) have transportation to their stations as well as the equipment needed to stay on the air to relay critical information to their communities (fuel and back-up generators). Joining Illinois and Nevada, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are the most recent states to take action to get first informers legislation passed. It is broadcasters’ hope that more states follow suit so stations can continue providing a vital lifeline for viewers and listeners.
Indeed, from the recent snow storm in New England to Hurricane Sandy, broadcasters are who communities turn to in times of crisis. As the New Jersey Broadcasters Association’s Paul Rotella said: “No one gets the word out like free, over-the-air broadcasters.”
Wally Babbidge, station manager at WHLT in Hattiesburg-Laurel, Miss., received an email from a parent saying he was able to reach his son in time to take cover before the tornado touched down thanks to the station’s work. After the tornado, the station delivered the community information from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and informed volunteers where the Salvation Army would be serving food for those impacted by the tornado. Babbidge says that broadcasters are, “the pulse of the community when it comes to providing information people need to know about life-threatening situations.”
Tell us, do you think your state should adopt a first informer law for your local broadcasters?