NAB: FCC Auction Approach Too Complex

In comments to the FCC, NAB made it clear it didn't like the way the commission was heading in its auction planning. "The overall approach ... is unnecessarily complex, appears to ignore important engineering considerations and overlooks more basic and straightforward solutions."

The NAB today derided the FCC’s incentive auction plan, calling it "unnecessarily complex" and unrealistic.

The comments came in a proceeding that set the rules for how the FCC will buy spectrum from participating TV broadcasters in a reverse auction and turn around and sell it to wireless carriers in a forward auction. Final comments in the proceeding are due today.

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NAB made it clear it didn't like the way the FCC was heading in its auction planning. "The overall approach ... is unnecessarily complex, appears to ignore important engineering considerations and overlooks more basic and straightforward solutions.

"Rather than designing an economist’s academic ideal of a reverse auction untethered from engineering realities, the auction should be designed with an eye towards achieving a viable nationwide band plan driven in part by the realistic repacking of broadcast stations,” it said.

The NAB suggested the FCC's first step should be to figure out how it would reorder or repack the remaining stations in the TV band assuming different "realistic" amounts of cleared spectrum.

"This will help the commission determine in what markets it needs volunteers, and how many of them, to produce a workable and efficient national plan," the NAB said. "The commission should then project generally what proceeds its expects to raise in the forward auction."

Brand Connections

The NAB again raised concerns about how non-participating stations would be affected by the auctioning. In the legislation authorize the FCC to conduct the auctions, Congress included safeguards meant to prevent any loss of service by broadcasters.

“To redefine, reduce or change either the coverage area or viewers actually served by stations will inflict serious damage on our members’ ability to compete in the marketplace and serve their local audiences,” the group emphasized.

The NAB also urged the FCC to not adopt a split or variable band plan, arguing that approach creates harmful interference for both broadcasters and wireless carriers. It could also require wireless exclusion zones, where wireless license holders wouldn’t be able to operate the spectrum that they won at auction.

“This is a substantial stumbling block, and the commission must undertake a serious and rigorous analysis of the effects of a variable plan on broadcast and wireless operations before adopting a band plan.”


Comments (5) -

James Cieloha Nickname posted over 4 years ago
I'm seen to know how to understand the entire spectrum situation. I would take a bet that Daystar, Trinity, Ion and all the other religious and minor broadcast network plus all the diginets multicast networks would round up being regulated to cable only network that would be made available to customers with FTA systems and be made available on all cable systems as well as on both Directv and Dish Network and also be allowed to stream their programming online for internet users at no cost. I like the idea in which NBC stations on 1080 share their channel with Telemundo on 480 in widescreen, CBS stations on 1080 sharing with CW on 1080 in widescreen, FOX stations on 720 sharing with MyNET on 720 in widescreen, Univision and Telefutura share a channel together on either 480, 720, or 1080 in widescreen, and ABC would continue to not have to worry about sharing their stations with another network or another station and still on 720 in widescreen, but could likely share it with other network affiliated channels on either 480, 720, or 1080 in widescreen. PBS stations would likely be forced to merged and share it’s stations on the same channel frequency and still be able to transmit in 1080 widescreen. The stronger PBS stations would end up sharing the channel space with the weaker PBS stations in markets where there are multiple PBS affiliates in the same market. The mid-sized and smaller TV markets could end up carrying 2 to 3 subchannel feeds in widescreen SDTV or HDTV on the same channel frequency. I would recommend that all the TV stations that are now on the UHF 14-51 band in digital that were on 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 in analog be forced to move on 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 in digital and all the TV stations that are now on the UHF 14-51 band in digital that were on 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30 in analog be forced to move back to those channels in digital plus all the TV stations that are now on the VHF 7-13 high band with different RF physical channel numbers on the VHF high band in digital that were on 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 in analog to be forced to move back to those channels in digital as the best way to not mess up on frequency assignments in the future maybe by around 2020. I like the idea of all the TV stations be allowed to transmit all HDTV and SDTV as well as mobile programming in the MPEG 4 format in the future maybe by around 2020. I like the idea of both IVI TV and FilmOn HDi be allowed to go in business again and be able to transmit all the local stations to the viewers on the net for free without any interference from the government for violating any copyright laws with benefits for online viewers that want to watch their favorite stations programming such as local news and shows even after the spectrum auction and plan becomes very mandated and very hard for TV stations to be able to stay on the air without being able to stream all their programming online to the viewers online. Me wanting IVI TV and FilmOn HDi transmitting the locals online for free to the viewers on the internet would be very beneficial when it comes to very severe weather outbreaks and breaking news that the viewers would want to be very informed the sooner and the better as a public service to all online users and all television stations in the future. I’m afraid that my take of what channels the TV stations ought to be on with the planning of an spectrum auction. Thank you for my understanding to this crisis in the TV business lately as it relates to the spectrum crunch going on right now. My comment to this matter is not a negative attack but a opinion and theory on my own terns to the spectrum auction in the future.
BemusedReader Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Thank you, Rain Man!
TVRFPE Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Return to former analog channels is not practical in many cases because the intereference standards are different for digital. Many stations moved their digital operations to former analog channels in 2009. Some of those who did not return stayed put on "transitional" digital channels for economic reasons, but many could not use their former analog channels even if they wanted to. Repacking has the potential to create a more orderly, less chaotic, and efficient occupancy of spectrum, done right. But it can also lead to service losses and continued allocation chaos if its sole priority is to vacate spectrum. NAB rightly seeks a "win-win" here, not a "win-lose".
Anthony Belle posted over 4 years ago
The Government can not have anything simple. I feel the all LP stations should go to VHF 2 to 6 wtih 20 to 30 KW. Channel 7 to 13 can be for all of the PBS and Religious stations. Give them 100kw. Then channels 14 to 31 can be for the station that want to make money. Think about it..
Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 4 years ago
As the NAB correctly observes, the auction and repacking as outlined in the NPRM are not based on solid engineering practice. The same holds true for the 120MHz goal of the NBP and the auction timetable set by the Commission. These are both arbitrary targets that do not take into consideration interference issues nor will ensure that broadcast television will remain a robust and healthy service. If the FCC is truly serious about reclaiming spectrum for broadband while maintaining the health of broadcast TV, they need to wait until the rollout of ATSC 3.0. This standard can achieve both goals. While the rollout may be a few years away, the Spectrum Act does give the FCC until 2020 to complete the auction and repacking. There is no sound reason, at this point, for the Commission to proceed any sooner.
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