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RF Shorts: Other Items of Interest - Nov. 5, 2009

Several news articles this week focused on the possibility of reallocating all or part of the spectrum used for broadcast TV to new wireless broadband services.

One of the more interesting articles was Tuesday's Urgent Communications article Licensed TV Spectrum Ideas Fraught With Promise, Problems. The article notes that none of the relocation plans being discussed includes spectrum for public safety communications. It also notes that it took 13 years and an act of Congress to move TV broadcasting from analog to digital and clear the analog spectrum and no one can predict how long it will take to clear the remaining TV spectrum and to implement one of the new plans. The possibility of "reclaim and auction" of TV spectrum affecting white space device proponents' plans is also discussed.

As usual, Broadcasting and Cable's John Eggerton has an excellent overview of the debate and broadcasters' response in his article Broadcasters Defend Their Spectrum – FCC's Levin approaches the industry in search for settlement. I found his discussion of FCC broadband advisor Blair Levin's plans for TV broadcasting particularly interesting. One point--Levin is not only talking to broadcast station group executives but to private-equity firms that might want to cash out of their broadcast holdings.

Broadcast industry publication Media Week discusses the impact of taking away TV spectrum on mobile DTV, which will be rolled out next year, and also to multicast programming, which provides unique, free programming, in the article Broadcasters: FCC Shouldn't Consider Multicast Grab. Under Blair Levin's plan, "a lot of free programming would go away." Examples cited include the new Spanish-language net Estrella TV, which relies on multicast channels for 16 of its 25 affiliates and the many local weather, hyper-local news and high school sports programs being offered on multicast channels.

Finally, you may have noticed and appreciated that RF Report doesn't do the "Top Ten [anything hot]" lists that have become so popular on sites like I'm making an exception this week for one I found particularly amusing. Check out CNET UK's Plug versus Plug, a comparison of AC outlets around the world with ratings. The United States did not do very well...

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Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.