Sutro Tower to Study Effects of Spectrum Auctions, Repack

SAN FRANCISCO—Sutro Tower, home to nearly a dozen Bay Area TV stations, has retained the services of Osborn Engineering, a Cleveland-based engineering consulting firm, to study the effects that the FCC’s upcoming spectrum auction and channel repacking will have on Sutro Tower Inc., which manages the structure and the leasing and use of its spaces.

The FCC plans to hold a reverse auction of broadcast television spectrum in 2016 with plans to auction it off to the wireless industry. Depending on their status after the auction, many stations remaining on air will have their channels repacked or shared for more efficient operation and reception.

“The FCC DTV Spectrum Auction and Repacking of tenants at San Francisco’s iconic and complex Sutro Tower structure has prompted the owners to accelerate future planning,” Sutro Tower said in a statement, which added that “this massive undertaking is now underway.”

Osborn will examine FCC regulations, proposed coverage patterns, as well as the option of switching some stations to VHF, and other equipment reconfiguration concerns at the existing site and possible new sites including DTS/Same Frequency Network scenarios. Osborn will coordinate its reports to match the FCC’s early 2016 anticipated auction schedule and repack. It will also take into consideration the effects that the ATSC 3.0 standard could have on channel repacking or sharing.

The two engineers from Osborn Engineering—Don Archiable, executive vice president and director Technical Architecture, Engineering and Technology, and Mark G. Fehlig, P.E., CPBE senior engineer of RF Spectrum—led the FCC DTV Auction efforts and are described by the company as “seasoned broadcasters and as well as architects and engineers with decades of experience with major networks and manufacturers.” Eric Dausman, vice president and chief operating officer for Sutro Tower, has a long industry record, including technical management positions with the NBC Television Network, WNBC‐TV New York, and KGW‐TV Portland, Ore.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.