Trucker TV, Take Two

Clarity Media Systems is not ready to give up plans to install TV transmitters using 2 GHz cable relay service and broadcast auxiliary service spectrum.

In May, the FCC Media Bureau denied Clarity’s applications and waiver request for a multichannel video service, which uses this portion of the spectrum and has been called “Trucker TV.” Clarity wanted to implement it at more than 250 Flying J truck stop locations across the country.

In early June, Clarity filed an Application for Review of the FCC action. The company stated that, “The Bureau, in a spectacularly flawed decision, has rejected all of Clarity’s well-supported arguments and showings, in favor of speculation and rabid NIMBYism from entrenched media powers and their agent trade associations.”

Clarity went on to say that its proposed system and local BAS/ENG service could co-exist and that it served the public interest. The decision review request concluded, “For all the reasons that are on record in this proceeding, the Commission must now reverse the Bureau’s dreadful decision, reinstate the Clarity applications nunc pro tunc, and grant both the waivers and the underlying applications.”

Clarity dismissed claims its system would interfere with broadcast ENG operations, emphasizing its system would not cause interference to broadcast auxiliary operations due to the low power of the transmitters and procedures that would allow a broadcaster using 2 GHz spectrum to shut down the transmitters if interference resulted or if it expected interference. Clarity indicated that it would shut down its transmitters even if they were not positively identified as the source of interference. The Application for Review states, “When a licensee can shut down a theoretical source of harmful interference the instant any interference appears by making one phone call to a number pre-placed right in front of its nose, the possibility of the licensee enduring harmful interference from that source, unless the licensee chooses to do so, is zero.”

Clarity said the Media Bureau erred in determining that the public interest benefits of the system would not outweigh the potential for interference to other users of this spectrum. The filing describes the large population of truck drivers and the amount of time they spend on the road and, during mandatory rest periods, at truck stops. It also touts the unique ability of the system to inform truck drivers of abducted or missing children. This argument is supported in a filing by the KlaasKids Foundation.

This week, the Society of Broadcast Engineers filed an Opposition to Application for Review, asking the Commission to deny the KlassKids and Clarity Applications for Review or affirm the Media Bureau’s decision. SBE points out that the missing child alert channel would be only one of many channels Clarity is proposing and questions whether many truckers would pay a fee for the service and tune to the “lost kids” channel. SBE suggests Clarity could run the channel on a closed circuit MATV system inside the truck stop without the need for any FCC licenses, rule waivers, or truckers needing to first purchase “Trucker TV.”

SBE found Clarity’s argument that the immediate shutdown, with “no questions asked,” of an operating “Trucker TV” system based on a phone call by a BAS licensee experiencing interference to be unbelievable. SBE noted that Clarity failed to provide “any credible and independent documentation” of its claim that DBS should not be considered as a readily available MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) signal source.

SBE points out that although Clarity cited local program origination on multichannel video distribution systems was one of the purposes of the Part 78 CARS rules, Clarity is not proposing any local origination.

SBE raises concerns that even if Clarity is able to avoid causing interference to broadcasters, other parties are likely to file “me too” applications to offer similar services using broadcast ENG spectrum if Clarity is allowed to build out its system. Obviously, this would increase the potential for interference, especially if the “me too” systems did not offer the same protection mechanisms Clarity is proposing.