The FCC's spectrum plan report and auction
Here are a few responses to the recent flurry of activity regarding the FCC's spectrum plan, a proposed spectrum auction and the potential loss of must carry.
Without having read the report, which I suspect would more accurately be described as a con job or verbal sleight of hand, I'd bet a week's pay (being almost retired makes that a safe bet) there are no facts regarding skyrocketing cable rates. No facts about cable bundling versus à la carte pricing. No facts regarding much of the population in the United States not knowing that programming can be received off-air let alone à la carte and for free!
It would not surprise me if the report is based more on assumptions than facts.
Hopefully broadcast and engineer associations — NAB, SBE, etc. — will wake up and start addressing the impending loss of broadcast spectrum!
This proves the European method of DTV transition (multichannel multiplexes containing at least four channels and operated by a third party) is simply more economical and makes better use of available resources. Also moving to AVC/H.264 would be smart. If ATSC had a system like DVB-CI, then pocket-size MPEG-4-to-MPEG-2 transcoders could upgrade any compatible set, easing the transition.
Handing the OTA free-to-watch spectrum over to the pay-as-you-go corporations is akin to allowing fiefdoms along the nation's highways to set up their own system of toll bridges. Follow the money to see where this line of logic originates. It is not with the end users, I can tell you that.
The story “ABC's ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ and ‘Nightline’ use Apple products for broadcast-quality production” story on June 25 got this reaction from a viewer. To recap, when a power failure struck the studio of Jimmy Kimmel's late night ABC show, the host used his Apple Macbook's webcam to shoot the show. ABC aired it the next night, giving Kimmel a huge boost of publicity.
If that was “broadcast quality” then Fisher-Price needs to start relabeling its video recorders (the ones that use an audio cassette tape) as SD cams! The audio was horrible, and the video was so loaded with artifacts, it looked like it came from YouTube.
The 700MHz issue
I have a question regarding wireless microphones in stage, PA and film work. Have you any comment about the FCC's take on “revisions?” Do you see a trend either sweeping unlicensed devices out of the way or perhaps just leaving them alone? I received an e-mail message from FCC.gov early this month stating a “position” pertaining to microphones in the 700MHz band. Have you any sense of updates?
John D. Harmer
Mitchell Lazarus responds:
As of June 12, operation of wireless microphones in the 698MHz-806MHz band is prohibited.
The FCC has proposed new rules that would allow legal, unlicensed operation of TV-band wireless microphones by anyone at powers below 50mW. There are also proposals to expand eligibility for licensed microphones above 50mW beyond the present group of broadcast, cable and film producers. We are not likely to see these rules adopted for several months.
In the meantime, the FCC is allowing operation of wireless microphones below 50mW by anyone on an unlicensed basis, under temporary waivers.
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC
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