The NAB is urging the FCC’s Media Bureau to end its freeze on the filing and processing of full-power and Class A television station modification applications. The freeze began on April 5 in a Public Notice and came as a surprise to many broadcasters.
According to the FCC, the reason for the freeze is to provide “a stable database” of full-power and Class A facilities for analyzing repacking methodologies after the upcoming spectrum auctions.
The freeze, argued Rick Kaplan, the NAB’s executive vice president for strategic planning, is not justified and is having an unintended negative impact on the broadcasting industry. “The notice establishing the freeze failed to provide a convincing rationale for bringing the broadcast business to a standstill, and, to date, it still remains uncertain to whom exactly the freeze applies,” Kaplan wrote the Media Bureau on May 6.
Kaplan said that the Public Notice also gave no indication that the Media Bureau weighed the costs and benefits of its action. “The Bureau made no discernible attempt to quantify the monetary investment made by those stations or the actual relative value or benefit of instituting a freeze at this point in time,” Kaplan said.
“Similarly, stations that have been preparing modification applications to improve service to their viewers and that have completed, or virtually completed, the required and costly engineering studies now have nothing to show for their time and expense,” he said.
The freeze, Kaplan said, appears to have helped precipitate the demise of Dielectric, the U.S. broadcast industry’s largest supplier of transmission antennas and a major supplier of television transmission lines, mask filters, combiners and related equipment.
“The implications of Dielectric’s decision to exit the marketplace should not be underestimated,” Kaplan said. “Dielectric was one of only a handful of companies that the broadcast industry not only relies on to keep its transmission facilities up and running, but also would be needed to complete a timely repacking.
“At this point, and perhaps as a result of the freeze, the timeframe set forth in the incentive auction legislation no longer appears to be possible,” he said.