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NAB Web Conference Outlines Broadcasters Options in 2-GHz BAS Relocation

Broadcasters attending the NAB Web conference on 2 GHz BAS relocation (see the Feb. 23, 2004 RF Report) last Thursday were treated to a comprehensive review of the relocation plan that included discussion of the current FCC relocation plan, broadcasters concerns with the FCC plan, and a description of actions broadcasters need to be taking to prepare for the relocation.

At the top of the list of concerns was the staged relocation where 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary service (BAS) users in markets below the top 30 would not receive compensation for relocation until well after the top 30 markets were relocated. As noted in previous issues of RF Report, this would make frequency coordination around many of the larger markets difficult if not impossible.

The current broadcasters' plan for relocating 2 GHz ENG channels involves two steps. First, stations in a market would convert to narrower bandwidth (12 MHz) operation on the existing 2 GHz channels, then, when all stations have switched to the narrower band digital microwave, all would change to the new channel plan simultaneously, freeing the lower two 2-GHz BAS channels for the new MSS and AWS licensees.

During the discussion, representatives from NAB and MSTV emphasized that broadcasters should consider all the costs associated with the move to narrower bandwidth digital microwave ENG when negotiating with the new MSS licensees over compensation for relocation. In addition to the cost of digital ENG microwave equipment, they should include the cost of modifications required to antenna systems and microwave return links from ENG sites (inter-city relays), tower work, and even mix-minus audio consoles needed to overcome the delay resulting from digital encoding.

More information on the 2-GHz BAS relocation is available from The National Association of Broadcasters, The Association For Maximum Service Television and The Society of Broadcast Engineers.