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FCC Staff, Broadcasters Mingle at Roundtable

by Scott Fybush~ April 25, 2006


Most broadcasters have no shortage of questions they'd like to ask top FCC staff. On Monday afternoon, they had that opportunity at "The FCC Roundtable," the annual event that brings key FCC staffers, NAB officials, Washington lawyers and broadcasters together in a room to mull over issues and answers.

For TV broadcasters, the transition to digital broadcasting is in full swing. With the Feb. 17, 2009, sunset of analog television looming, broadcasters wanted to know about deadlines for vacating their temporary digital channels after the analog shutdown, and about timing for a new round of DTV channel elections. ("Soon," said Barbara Kreisman, chief of the FCC's Video Division.)

The deadline itself, however, remains firm.

"I think Congress is taking it away from the commission," said FCC Senior Deputy Media Bureau Chief Roy Stewart of the decision on the analog sign-off date.

TV broadcasters are also concerned about closed-captioning and V-chip data requirements, and about the indecency fines that have left many broadcasters in a state of uncertainty.

On the radio side, several broadcasters asked Peter Doyle, chief of the FCC's Audio Division, about the status of HD Radio, which still awaits full approval from the commission for use on the AM band at night.

Doyle said that question, like many others posed by broadcasters, is likely to be answered more fully once the pending appointment of a fifth FCC commissioner begins to move forward in the Senate, where it remains stalled. He said the commission is also trying to move forward on translator issues, as well as eventual windows for noncommercial FM and AM major changes and new-station applications.

Broadcasters also expressed concerns about public service obligations for TV and radio digital multicasts, about the FCC's EEO requirements, and about the ongoing license renewal process.

"Some of these issues don't always come to my desk, so this is valuable for me to hear," said Media Bureau Chief Donna Gregg.

© 2006 NAB