Nab 2014

Wheeler Urges Broadcasters To See It His Way

Saying the FCC wants to help the industry, Chairman Tom Wheeler urges support of open Internet regs and participation in the incentive auction; says the commission will back ATSC 3.0; defends the new JSA rule; and questions industry support of OET-69.

Under fire from broadcasters for adopting stricter enforcement of the local ownership limits, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said at the NAB Show on Tuesday that the agency is prepared to help the industry thrive in the “challenging” new media environment.

“We’re living in really challenging times,” Wheeler said during a standing-room-only session at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. “Those times call for us to say, ‘How can we seize the opportunity created by change, rather than how do I build bulwarks against change.’ ”

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NAB's Gordon Smith (l) and FCC's Tom Wheeler
First, Wheeler urged broadcasters to support the FCC’s effort to resurrect open Internet regulations so that they are better able to provide OTT services. He warned that the OTT “window of opportunity won’t stay open forever.”

He said broadcasters could raise capital for such new services by selling at least part of their existing spectrum back during the agency’s incentive auction. “Spectrum sharing will allow you to maintain your existing business while taking home an auction check,” he said. “It sounds like a pretty good deal to me.”

Wheeler also offered to help support the development and implementation of the OFDM-based next generation broadcast TV standard, which is known as ATSC 3.0. “The FCC will be ready and responsive when the standard is completed,” the chairman said.

Wheeler also said that he would help with transitioning the country to the new standard, which is incompatible with existing TV sets. “It’s going to be a long and heavy lift,” Wheeler said. “We should not shrink from it, nor underestimate its magnitude.”

Brand Connections

Wheeler also defended the FCC’s March 31 vote to crack down on joint sales agreements, insisting that the agency’s action had been solely aimed at fulfilling the FCC’s mandate to promote competition, diversity and localism.

“Where sidecar deals serve the public interest by advancing the goals established by Congress, they are appropriate,” he said. “When entanglements between separately owned stations serve as end runs around our local television rules, however, it’s appropriate to push the stop button.”

Wheeler said that the March 31 FCC decision to bar a market’s top four TV stations from jointly negotiating retrans deals was driven by what he said was the congressional intent that the deals be conducted “one at a time.”

Broadcasters are also concerned that pending FCC proposals to eliminate the syndicated exclusivity, network nonduplication and sports blackout rules will also undermine a broadcaster’s local exclusivity.

But Wheeler didn’t spell out exactly what the agency’s planned to do about those regulations. “I think it’s worthwhile to look at that,” he said.

Wheeler also questioned NAB’s insistence on using OET-69, instead of an FCC-backed model that includes more up-to-date data, for the incentive auction’s repacking plan. “That’s a real head-scratcher for me,” Wheeler said.


Comments (4) -

Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 2 years ago
OK, if Wheeler really wants to help broadcast television, delay the auction until ATSC 3.0 is fully implemented. If 3.0 is released in 2015, as is predicted, the auction could be held as soon as 2017--well within the mandated 2022 deadline.
Insider Nickname posted over 2 years ago
Wheeler also said that Broadcasters should be more like Netflixs. Ok. Let's charge everyone for $7.99 for the first account and more depending on how many people want to watch something different in the house at the same time. How does that sound Mr. Wheeler?
tjxx Nickname posted over 2 years ago
This guy is a bigger joke than his boss!!!
D S Nickname posted over 2 years ago
I'm tired of this conflict of interest between the FCC and any/all other parts of the industry. We have one commissioner leave to take a high paying lobbyist job with Comcast (back in the 1950's they probably would have called this "Payola".. sadly what Alan Freed allegedly did pales in comparison to a commissioner leaving to take a job with a company that her decisions while with the FCC helped). Then we have Wheeler who has close ties with the group that most benefits from the spectrum "buy-back". And then let's look at the existing vs. future "spectrum cost" to the public. All these channels are free OTA services to the public. As "I.T. bandwidth" this same spectrum will be charged back.. on a regular "kilobyte basis" to the public for "the use". I see an end to a LOT of jobs (TV broadcasts) in exchange for the ramp of a new industry with a MUCH smaller "employee base", while the public gets charged for the "same air that was once free"... AND a bunch of people in the "upper tax bracket" getting rich(er)! I would propose that NO person from any part of the "RF use industry" be permitting to come directly from that industry into the FCC (without, say, a five year hiatus from the industry), AND NO person from the FCC (or maybe federal government) be permitted to take a job within ANY industry that any of their decisions (while in federal government) may have impacted for a period of no less than 10 years (I'm speaking to YOU Meredeth Attwell Baker!)
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Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
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Source: Nielsen


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