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

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.