10.21.2010 03:00 PM
Broadcast TV Spectrum Auctions Actions Coming in November
AuctioniWASHINGTON: The FCC intends to formalize rules by which TV broadcasters voluntarily relinquish spectrum in return for compensation. Establishing incentive auctions is among three items announced today by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for the commission’s November agenda.

“In these two-sided auctions, we propose that current spectrum licensees, such as TV broadcasters, could voluntarily relinquish spectrum; the FCC would then auction spectrum for flexible wireless broadband, and some portion of the proceeds would be shared with the old licensee,” Genachowski said at a Spectrum Summit held today at the commission.

Paying broadcasters to hand over spectrum is a “big idea,” the chairman allowed, adding that the need for wireless broadband in the country was proportional. A white paper on freeing spectrum for wireless broadband was also released at the Summit. It reiterated much of what the Genachowski commission’s been saying since it rolled out the National Broadband Plan last March: That a spectrum shortage looms.

According to today’s white paper, the spectrum “deficit” for wireless devices will hit 300 MHz within five years. However, it notes that a baseline of 170 MHz was used to model national needs, rather than the 547 MHz actually licensed for mobile broadband and voice. (See “FCC White Paper Factors Out Undeveloped Wireless Spectrum.”)

“The majority of the remaining 377 MHz has been made available within the past six years and is just now coming online,” the
document says. The paper mostly emphasizes how the use of wireless devices will outpace baseline available spectrum and technology.

Many broadcasters have publicly denounced interest in trading in spectrum, but times are tough and many stations are suffering financially. Genachowski said he was “pleased that broadcasters are thinking seriously” about incentive auctions.

The same proposed rulemaking will include the concept of channel sharing whereby broadcasters are allowed a 6 MHz allotment. It will also seek ways to improve DTV reception in the VHF band, “to make it a more effective option for broadcasters,” Genachowski said.

A second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Genachowski announced would cover the expansion of the FCC’s experimental licensing program.

“For example, you’ve probably seen the TV ads featuring new potentially life-saving anti-collision systems in cars. That technology requires spectrum, and it was developed using an experimental license,” he said. “Experimental licensing also played a key role in white spaces and super Wi-fi.”

The item would consider easing restrictions on entities testing new services and technology using the radio frequency spectrum. Genachowski said it would give the FCC “on-the-ground intelligence on interference issues.”

The third item for the November agenda is a Notice of Inquiry on secondary markets, such as those relying on spectrum databases, sensing technology or “new innovations in the works at various private companies,” Genachowski said.

The chairman also announced the formation of a Technology Advisory Council, to be headed by Tom Wheeler, managing director of Core Capital Partners and former chief of the CTIA, the lobby representing wireless providers. He’ll be joined by Doug Sicker, the FCC’s chief technologist. Walter Johnson, the commission’s chief of electromagnetic compatibility division, will serve as the council’s designated federal officer, while Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology will serve as alternate.

The FCC’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 30.

Deborah D. McAdams

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Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Wed, 11-24-2010 05:23 PM Report Comment
In case you haven't been paying attention to reality, there are 100+ OTA channels available in Los Angeles, 70+ in San Francisco, 50+ in NYC and usually around 40+ free options in other major cities. That's a lot of free programming folks. And some of it is actually good. If a la carte was an option on cable/satellite, everything would be different. But it's not. Watch free TV in those cities and you'll become a believer of a world w/out pay TV.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Mon, 01-10-2011 02:37 PM Report Comment
Here in Miami-Fort Lauderdale Market I am seeing as of jan. 2011, OTA 55 channels scanned and counting! Me-TV, Cooltv, Thecountrynetwork, and TuffTV are scheduled to launch here also which will add more OTA channels. Over the air is the way to go!
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 09-23-2011 06:07 PM Report Comment
The comment about OTA viewership being less than 10 % overlooks the fact that there are MANY areas in this country where the OTA stations have NO direct connections to the cable headends and satellite dish network collection points and that the viewers are actually watching OTA signals indirectly every time they watch their local news on the pay TV services. Only the biggest stations in the big markets are likely to have direct connections to the pay tv headends. Come out to the rest of the country in the non-major markets and see how signals really are connected. When wireless internet offers a free wireless service on the spectrum, then they can talk about a public service. Make them comply with EAS and captioning for the deaf and Deive video service audio tracks for the blind, then they can better justify their takeover of the spectrum.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Fri, 10-29-2010 03:54 PM Report Comment
- OTA viewership is less than 10% - Rabbit ears don't work well - Multicasting is a big failure - Mobile DTV is probably DOA - Local news, traffic and weather is available on the web and mobile web - Intelligent ad ion can localize or hyperlocalize any content delivered on a multichannel service - The traditional "local channels" are losing relevance with the younger generations, They had a great buggy whip, but we're all driving cars. There is no rational reason to preserve broadcasters' status quo.
Posted by: Deborah McAdams
Sat, 11-13-2010 05:21 PM Report Comment
Well unless you live in an area where you can't get internet or cable and don't want to pay for dish. How does one get local news and information and especially emergency information? I could say that only 3% use Charter cable to get TV so Charter cable is useless and should be done away with using YOUR logic. In fact MOST cable companies have fewer viewers than OTA. So let's do away with most cable companies.

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