NAB, MSTV object to plan to relocate stations’ 2GHz BAS channels

The Association for Maximum Service Television and the National Association of Broadcasters objected to the FCC’s reallocation of spectrum at 2GHz in a letter sent to Commission Chairman Michael Powell.

The Nov. 7 letter from NAB CEO Edward Fritts and MSTV president David Donovan said the groups were “troubled” over the Commission’s consideration of a plan to move forward with relocation of BAS and fixed microwave service at 2GHz to make room for new Mobile Satellite Services.

The FCC adopted its Third Report and Order, and Third Memorandum Opinion and Order on Nov. 5 and released its action Nov. 10. (For more information see: “2GHz MSS report and order addresses BAS, FS issues.”)

“For almost a decade, broadcasters have agreed with the Commission that improvements in technology make it possible to shrink the spectrum at 2 GHz that we have used for ENG,” the letter said. “Consistent with the FCC’s Emerging Technologies doctrine, we have asked only that there be a workable transition plan and that the new users of the spectrum to be vacated undertake the costs of the transition."

“While broadcasters have been willing to move, the transition to a new band plan has been frustrated by the unwavering refusal of the applicants for the Mobile Satellite Service licenses that will use the vacated spectrum to agree to any plan that would require any significant financial commitment from them,” the letter stated.

According to the letter, the associations object to a requirement for all broadcasters to vacate two existing ENG channels while only stations in the 30 largest markets would be given the chance to negotiate with MSS licensees for compensation relocation expenses prior to vacating the BAS channels.

The remaining broadcasters would lose two channels or have to pay the cost of relocating, including the price of ENG equipment, until an unspecified future date when new frequency users may be required to compensate the broadcasters for their relocation expenses.

The letter outlined several other objections, including:

  • Several markets would be reduced to five channels for ENG and fixed STL and translator station usage;
  • Under certain circumstances, such as emergency situations or breaking news, it “would be almost impossible” to coordinate use of frequency usage because stations will be operating on two different band plans;
  • The relocation proposal “inexplicably places financial and operational burdens” on stations in smaller markets, those which are “least able to pay;”
  • The plan appears to be at odds with the Commission’s localism initiative which seeks to assess the commitment of broadcasters to their local communities because it would “harm broadcasters’ ability in most markets to provide the news and emergency information that is at the heart of localism.”

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