Fifty-one percent of BAS licensees complete contracts with Sprint Nextel, Degitz says

Speaking at a gathering of news technology executives in Chicago last week, Sprint Nextel VP of global development and spectrum management Mike Degitz announced that 51 percent of BAS licensees have completed contracts with the telecommunications giant for replacement of their analog ENG radios, antennas and controllers.

The achievement is a significant milestone on the road to completing the 2GHz relocation of Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) licensees to new 12MHz-wide digital channels — a process that has taken longer than originally envisioned. Sprint Nextel and BAS licensees are currently in a sort of limbo period created when the FCC waived its Sept. 7, 2007, deadline for completion of the project for 60 days. Sprint Nextel, NAB, MSTV and SBE jointly filed a request with the commission last month for a 29-month extension of the deadline to complete the project.

During his presentation to about 120 broadcasters at the Broadcast Engineering-Broadcasting & Cable organized News Technology Summit Oct. 17, Degitz also announced that the Grand Junction, CO, market had completed its digital BAS retuning Oct. 12, and that all the BAS licensees in Las Vegas were expected to complete their retuning Oct. 20 — the first major market to do so.

Degitiz used the forum to urge broadcasters to complete their Frequency Relocation Agreements (FRAs) with Sprint Nextel. He also presented data showing that significant progress has been made toward completing the project since March, when the company first reported to the FCC that it would need additional time to complete the relocation project.