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Dingell asks FCC for data on consequences to viewers, stations of recouping DTV spectrum

A leading Democratic member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce June 17 asked the FCC to supply key information regarding the potential consequences of reclaiming broadcast spectrum as it conducts deliberations.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, requested the agency lay out the implications of reclaiming 120MHz of TV spectrum assuming the agency does not move stations to low VHF channel assignments, maintains full protection of all existing station contours and complies with current U.S. treaty obligations with Canada and Mexico.

Dingell, who gave the commission to June 27 to submit its answers, asked the agency how many full-power, low-power and Class A stations nationwide the agency is assuming will share a channel or choose to go off the air, as well as how many will do so in the Boston-to-Washington, D.C., corridor, the Great Lakes border region, and in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Dingell also asked the agency how many stations will be required to be moved to a new channel or to be repacked, as well as how many the agency is assuming will be moved from UHF to high VHF.

Dingell also requested the same answers for scenarios in which less spectrum than 120MHz was the target for recovery. Specifically, Dingell asked the commission the total number of TV viewers that will lose service and the number of channels viewers are expected to lose if the commission recoups 90MHz, 60MHz or 30MHz of TV spectrum. He also asked how many viewers will gain new service.

The congressman also wanted the commission to state when its Allotment Optimization Model to be used to investigate incentive auction scenarios will be made public.

The FCC has laid out a goal of recouping 120MHz of spectrum used by television broadcasters to be auctioned to wireless service providers to meet anticipated future demand for wireless Internet service.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.