NAB Asks FCC to Lift Freeze

WASHINGTON – Broadcast lobby reps have asked regulators to lift the freeze on TV license modifications. A team from the National Association of Broadcasters visited with members from FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s staff on Wednesday, asking that the freeze be reconsidered.

“In addition to offering no compelling rationale for such a freeze—including the freezing of all applications that had already been filed in accordance with commission rules—it appears that the freeze is having dramatic consequences even beyond negative impacts on individual stations and viewers,” the NAB’s ex partefiling documenting the meeting said.

The freeze was initiated April 5, the week before the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Two weeks later, the industry’s largest manufacturer of high-power transmission antennas, Dielectric, announced it would go out of business. Industry observers and insiders cited the freeze as one of the primary reasons for Dielectric’s closure.

“It appears that, as a result of particular actions at the commission and resulting uncertainty in the broadcast industry, Dielectric and other similar manufacturers are cutting jobs or exiting the industry altogether,” the NAB filing said. “Not only does this affect the employment of a number of Americans, but it also puts out of business one of the companies most necessary to effectuating incentive auction repacking. We therefore urge the Media Bureau to lift it’s freeze until it is able to examine, evaluate and explain the impact of the freeze on all pending and impending modification applications.”

During the same meeting, the NAB team, including Rick Kaplan, Jane Mago and Bruce Franca, asked that the changes to OET-69 be put aside for the spectrum auction. The commission quietly introduced changes to OET-69, the methodology for calculating a TV station coverage area, in February. (An update was released today… “FCC Releases Updated OET-69 TVStudy Software.” It does not address the concerns laid out herein, but rather a coding issue.)

“NAB’s analysis indicates that the changes being made to OET-69 through the Public Notice creates less, rather than more, accurate results,” the filing said. “Moreover, even if the new software changing the OET-69 methodology was indeed more accurate—which it is not—NAB queried why the commission would use the new methodology only for incentive auctions and not all of OET-69’s functions.

“For example, why would OET propose only to change the methodology to be more accurate for incentive auctions, but leave in place the purportedly inferior methodology for all ongoing application filings?”

~ Deborah D. McAdams

April 23, 2013,
“Dielectric Demise Raises Repacking Alarm”
The closure of Dielectric, the U.S. broadcast industry’s largest supplier of transmission antennas, is raising concerns that it will be virtually impossible to complete the post-incentive auction channel repack in three years, as Congress has mandated.

February 5, 2013,FCC Reveals Crucial Piece of TV Channel Repacking Method
The FCC quietly revealed what amounts to its methodology for repacking TV channels in the post-incentive auction spectrum band. The agency released a new version OET-69 software that it intends to use for the repacking, and is seeking input on its efficacy.

June 25, 2012, “‘Complete Chaos’ Predicted if TV Repack is Done Right After Auctions
“We don’t know how many stations will move, the impact on individual stations, or when moves begin,” said Jay Adrick, vice president of Broadcast Technology for Harris and a panelist at the workshop.