Broadcasters urge FCC to reconsider local TV relocation

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 08 July 2015

A diverse coalition of broadcasters and unlicensed spectrum advocates have filed a joint letter opposing an FCC staff proposal aimed at reversing the commission's decision in last year's TV band Incentive Auction Report & Order.

That order provides for a dedicated "duplex gap" (guard band) after the auction, which will free up spectrum for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed services nationwide, as well as for licensed broadcast news microphones.

The problem is that the plan will require local broadcast TV stations to relocate to these duplex gaps in certain major markets, including Los Angeles. The letter urges the FCC to instead maintain its current policy of relocating TV stations, only if absolutely necessary, in the mobile carrier uplink or downlink portions of the new post-auction 600MHz band plan.

The coalition filing the letter includes broadcasters (National Association of Broadcasters), newscasters (Radio & Television Digital New Association), utilities (Utilities Telecom Council), consumer advocates (Open Technology Institute, Consumers Union and other public interest groups), technology companies (Microsoft, Engine Advocacy) and rural wireless broadband providers (WISPA, Rural Broadband Policy Group).

Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at New America's Open Technology Institute, noted: "Placing TV stations in the duplex gap is just plain bad policy that ignores clear Congressional intent. Broadcasters, newscasters, technology companies and consumer advocates all urge the commission not to reverse the agency's decision last year to adopt a balanced auction policy that also protects the public interest in unlicensed spectrum and in over-the-air broadcasting."

He added: "Our broad coalition asks the commission to stick with its current, balanced policy that does not sacrifice the public's interest in better Wi-Fi and in local news coverage for the short-sighted siren song of a bit more auction revenue."