Opposition continues to grow against Clarity Media Systems's request for an FCC waiver, which would allow it to operate its wireless cable system using the entire 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary service band. Clarity wants the waiver truck stops in Frazier Park, Calif.; North Salt Lake, Utah; Rapid City, S.D.;Blacksburg, S.C.;Waco, Texas;Carmel Church, Va.; Fairview, Tenn.; Graham, N.C. and St. Lucie, Fla.
The NAB and MSTV (Association for Maximum Service Television) filed comments last week stating, "The granting of a cable television relay service license to Clarity's direct-to-consumer, multichannel video programming distribution service would turn the commission's CARS rules on their head and would materially harm local broadcast services critical electronic newsgathering operations, to the detriment of the viewing public."
The commenters point out that loss of such service could endanger lives and property when broadcasters are using ENG equipment to cover events such as hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes, and terrorist attacks. They note that the FCC recognized the importance of local TV broadcasters when it created the Media Security and Reliability Council. MSRC's best practices advise stations with local news origination to plan to have emergency origination capability at a separate location, citing ENG as an example.
MSTV and NAB include an engineering analysis showing that operation of Clarity's proposed system "would harm ENG operations, and this harm would occur at a critical point in the transition of the digital broadcast auxiliary service." For example, MSTV and NAB note, "Clarity's reliance on incorrect calculations and its proposed antenna downtilt omits consideration of several key factors which assure that interference will occur."
The broadcast groups explain, "Clarity has a plethora of lawful, nonharmful options available by which it could achieve its business plan" and accuse Clarity of attempting "an end-run around the statutorily mandated auction rules."
Any broadcaster using or planning to use 2 GHz microwaves should take a look at the 41-page petition
from NAB and MSTV. While the current Clarity Media Systems waiver requests covers only those cities listed earlier, it is likely if Clarity is successful in rolling out this service at this limited number of truck stops, they will want to extend the service to other Flying J truck stops across the country. If the FCC allows this use of the spectrum, I would expect to see other companies asking to use the 2 GHz BAS spectrum to distribute TV programming at camp sites and other locations popular with recreational vehicle owners, such as sports venues.