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L.A. TV Stations, Wireless Lobby, Test Channel-Sharing

LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON— Two Los Angeles TV stations are going to explore channel-sharing with the support of the major wireless lobby. CTIA-The Wireless Association, KLCS and KJLA announced a channel-sharing pilot project that responds to the Federal Communications Commission’s request to “demonstrate the technical and legal arrangements necessary to implement a successful channel-sharing operation.”

The goal of the pilot program is to show that if implemented in markets across the country, as part of the upcoming incentive auction of television broadcast spectrum, channel-sharing would allow over-the-air broadcasters to continue providing and enhancing content without impacting their viewers while reducing infrastructure costs. Subsequently, the spectrum relinquished by those channel-sharing broadcasters would be auctioned with some of the proceeds going to those participating broadcasters to reinvest in services to benefit their communities. In turn, mobile providers will acquire the spectrum in a forward auction so they may continue to expand wireless broadband service coverage to Americans.

A key component of the FCC’s Broadcast Incentive Auction plan is to ensure the wireless industry has the spectrum... Channel-sharing entails two television stations “sharing” a single over-the-air broadcast television channel, with their primary and multicast content combined on a single, digital stream capable of carrying multiple high-definition and standard-definition video services.

Once the two parties receive FCC approval, the testing process will occur through the first quarter of 2014. Under the channel-sharing agreement, KLCS and KJLA will conduct a series of tests that will culminate in KLCS “hosting” KJLA’s content and transmitting a shared stream that will combine the two stations’ primary and multicast content. KLCS and KJLA will also attempt a variety of HD and SD video feeds to confirm the feasibility and technical limits of channel sharing between two unaffiliated broadcast stations. There will be no impact to KJLA’s and KLCS’ viewers during this test.

The KJLA and KLCS stations volunteered to participate in the pilot channel-sharing project. Once the testing process is complete, the organizations will prepare a report to the FCC, which they hope will yield critically important data for the Commission and provide other interested parties with information as they consider whether to engage in their own channel sharing efforts. To test the viability of this technology, it was considered important that the over-the-air television stations were in large cities where the highest demand for spectrum is occurring.

“We welcome the opportunity to host this important project so that we may share the lessons learned with the FCC and other interested parties. We also hope that the pilot program will provide broadcasters around the country with ‘real world’ data to evaluate the opportunity to channel-share in the upcoming spectrum auction,” said Alan Popkin, Director of TV Engineering, KLCS.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with KLCS to deliver some of our existing programming to a select group of viewers through this unique new platform,” said Francis Wilkinson, Vice President and General Manager of KJLA. “This partnership will enable us to evaluate the practical impact of channel sharing on KJLA’s signal, and on our multicast content partners and viewers, as we consider our potential participation in the reverse auction. We hope these early test results will be useful to other members of the broadcast industry.”

“Since spectrum is a finite and valuable resource, channel sharing is truly a win-win-win for consumers, broadcasters and wireless providers. This helps broadcasters ensure that over-the-air customers may continue to enjoy their programming while the wireless industry continues to invest and innovate so it can meet the insatiable demands of its consumers for everything from broadband access to the ‘Internet of Things,’” said Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA. “We appreciate the leadership that KJLA and KLCS have shown by volunteering to participate in this important pilot project, and are confident this will be a successful test that will be copied throughout the country.”