Broadcast TV Channel Sharing Moves Forward

The FCC will take another step in preparation for the incentive auction of UHF TV spectrum recently allowed by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The Tentative Agenda for the FCC's April Open Meeting includes this item: "The Commission will consider a Report and Order establishing a regulatory framework for channel sharing among television licensees in connection with an incentive auction of spectrum."

The Report and Order will be based on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking I describe in my December 2010 article Proposed FCC Rules Give Fixed and Mobile Services Co-primary Status in all TV Bands. As I noted then, a significant part of the NPRM was devoted to making VHF spectrum more desirable. In addition to allowing stations to operate with more power at VHF, it would have also extended the all-channel receiver rules (the ones that mandate working UHF TV tuners) to require all indoor antennas to meet the ANSI/CEA-2032-A "Indoor TV Receiving Antenna Performance Standard."

Now that Congress has prohibited the FCC from involuntarily relocating TV stations from UHF to VHF channels, it will be interesting to see how many of the proposed rule changes for VHF TV survive. As I mentioned in my December 2010 article, the NPRM also contained confusing language regarding the impact stations sharing a channel could have on radio-astronomy use of Channel 37 and the interference to wireless operations adjacent to Channel 51. None of these made any technical sense to me because whether or not a station is sharing its 19.39 Mbps data stream has no impact whatsoever on its out-of-band emissions. Perhaps the Report and Order will have more details on this NPRM language.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.