Broadcasters, FCC Discuss Clarity Media’s 2 GHz Trucker TV

Broadcasters met with the FCC last week to voice their concerns about a proposed truck stop wireless cable system that could cause interference with broadcasters’ ENG signals.

The point of contention among broadcasters is a plan by Clarity Media System to establish a wireless communication system at 279 Flying J truck stops around the country. The company has been petitioning the FCC to allow it to build its system using all 2 GHz ENG channels; broadcasters are moving their ENG operations to that portion of the spectrum for newsgathering in digital.

The meeting included representatives from NAB, the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), ABC Television Network, the Society for Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and several major TV groups. Clarity Media Systems representatives also attended as well as Roy Stewart, John Wong, Sarah Mahmood, Keith Larson and John Gabrysch from the FCC Media Bureau and Julius Knapp, Ron Chase, Bruce Romano and Ira KeltzKeltz of the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology.

According to a summary of the meeting, the Media Bureau limited the discussion to the 29 technical questions included in an agenda provided one day prior to the meeting. During the meeting, it was revealed that Clarity Media “has consistently failed to take account of the link budget and related technical showings filed by MSTV over twelve months ago.” The letter states that although Clarity Media has incorrectly asserted “there were no link budgets, credible broadcaster-supplied technical analyses, or any other of the usual types of submissions that are proffered to bolster claims of the potential for interference from those who would claim they would be victimized by Clarity,” the Bureau attendees pointed out Clarity Media was wrong. Clarity Media could have easily located the MSTV link budget and related technical analysis by referring to the Engineering Statement in the Petition to Deny of MSTV and NAB submitted on September 22, 2006 and timely filed on Clarity Media and its counsel.

The broadcast representatives noted the absence from the technical agenda of any mention of the suitability of other spectrum bands for Clarity Media’s wireless cable service and commented on Clarity Media’s declaration that 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum was incompatible only six days after the FCC granted a 45-day extension of the pleading cycle to allow Clarity Media to study this band. The broadcast representatives urged any future testing focus first on bands such as 3.6 GHz (nonexclusive), 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum and licensed bands at 700 MHz, 1.7/2.1 GHz and 2.5 GHz.

Other topics discussed included the three preliminary demonstrations of Clarity Media’s wireless cable service, “which failed to examine the extent to which acknowledged ‘noise’ created by Clarity Media’s transmissions would degrade ENG capabilities;” the complex coordination process used by local TV stations and national networks to cover late-breaking news events; Clarity Media’s acknowledgement that it would not participate in coordination because it would occupy all ENG channels; and “the challenges facing the broadcast representatives as the industry works to improve public safety communications by completing the transition to a narrower, digital BAS band plan."

The summary ends, “As indicated above, no discussion was permitted of the legal and policy issues that compel denial of Clarity Media’s pending Application for Review, notwithstanding that grant of the relief requested by Clarity Media would be unlawful."