MSTV, NAB urge FCC to assist broadcasters in digital transition

Television broadcasters cannot afford “to strand” their expected $10 billion to $16 billion investment in conversion to digital service and thus must rely upon the FCC to put in place policies that offer broadcasters the flexibility they need to build out their digital plants, preserve TV spectrum integrity and protect the public’s interest in free, universal over-the-air TV, according to reply comments recently filed with the commission.

The comments, filed jointly by the NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television, are in response to the commission’s second periodic review of the rules and policies affecting the conversion to digital television.

Among the highlights of the more than 30-page filing are:

  • Establishing May 1, 2005, as the channel election deadline to give the commission and industry sufficient time to work through the issues associated with repacking, and allow broadcasters to make informed decisions;
  • Rejecting various proposals for band-clearing related to out-of-core stations and establishing replication and maximization deadlines coinciding with the end of the transition;
  • Eliminating the simulcast rule;
  • Permitting satellite stations to relinquish digital authorizations and flash cut to DTV transmission on analog channels;
  • Interpreting a section of the law establishing the “15 percent test” [Section 309 (j)(4)(B)] to protect consumers from loss of service to the greatest possible extent;
  • Adopting rules governing technical standards to enhance DTV delivery.

The MSTV and NAB urged the commission to reject any comments from other parties that call for a “premature end” to the transition to digital television and to adopt a report and order that is consistent with the comments offered by the association.

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