Clarity CARS waivers, license applications crash and burn

The FCC Media Bureau May 2 denied a petition from Clarity Media for waivers of Cable Television Relay Service (CARS) rules it sought in order to transmit a new multichannel video service in the 2025MHz-2110MHz band to truckers and recreational vehicles parked at Flying J truck stop travel plazas. The bureau also dismissed applications Clarity had filed for CARS licenses.

The action is significant for broadcasters because of the potential for harmful interference the system could have caused to ENG operations in the 2GHz band.

In its decision, the Media Bureau concluded that Clarity Media’s argument for the waivers did not recognize that CARS was a relay service “and only part of the delivery system,” not a service “to provide service or relay signals directly to subscribers.”

The Media Bureau disagreed with Clarity Media’s assertion that the commission “was just expressing the status quo at that time” when it originally defined CARS as a backhaul system for cable operators to link communities that couldn’t be linked with any other technology.

In denying the request, the Media Bureau also said that Clarity did not demonstrate that its system wouldn’t interfere with Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) operations. The bureau said Clarity’s tests of the system were inadequate because they did not include reception of a BAS signal at a fixed or mobile site, and so, the FCC couldn’t conclude that the system “would not cause harmful interference at ENG receive sites.”

Clarity had proposed setting up a 24-hour telephone hotline that ENG operators and other users of the frequency could use to request that an interfering Clarity multichannel video station be shut down. But those assurances did not assuage the concerns of the bureau: “The nature of the CARS and BAS/ENG services is spontaneous and unpredictable, as breaking news can occur at any location and at any time,” the bureau said. It could take hours to determine the source of the interference, contact the right person and shut down the source of interference.

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