ACA to FCC: Headend Info Available to TV Re-Packers Under Its Plan

The American Cable Association says that the FCC does not need to mandate new affirmative reporting requirements for broadcasters to be able to get the headend information they need for the post-incentive auction repacking.

The FCC in May proposed axing the last local file obligations for broadcasters and cable operators as it completed the transition to online public files.

The FCC plans to lift the requirement that cable operators post the location of their headends in the FCC's public database or in local files. Cable operators said that could be a security issue, and the FCC agreed.

While the public doesn't need to know where the principal headend is, and publicizing it could be a security threat, the FCC pointed out that TV stations and the FCC still need to know where it is, so sought comment on how it should be collected and made available to both.

The FCC has proposed replacing that filing requirement with new reporting requirements to make sure that information will be made available to the FCC or broadcasters (or cable franchising authorities) when they need it.

Related: NCTA Backs FCC on Headend Reporting Requirement

But in comments on that proposal, Cohen, Dippell and Everist (CDE), a Washington-based engineering consulting firm to broadcasters, asked just how it was going to be able to get the headend information if it needed it to insure TV service is maintained to the headends.

The American Cable Association confined itself to those comments, pointing out that no broadcasters themselves raised issues with the FCC proposal.

ACA actually wants the FCC to give cable operators the option of filing in the public database or locally, rather than have to adhere to new reporting requirements.

"There is no policy justification for imposing new burdens on cable operators, particularly smaller operators, as a result of the Incentive Auction, especially if the costs incurred are non-reimbursable and reasonable alternatives exist for making the information available at no cost and without additional burden to the operator," ACA told the FCC.

As to CDE's concerns, ACA says not to worry, under its proposal, it would be available locally for stations to check out in person.

"Even if repacking, as CDE alleges, leads some stations to need principal headend information for initial studies during the course of filing for new television facilities, that information will remain available to them (or CDE) under ACA’s proposal. The key difference between ACA’s proposal and the NPRM’s proposals is that ACA’s proposal gives each cable operator the option to retain the information in its public inspection file rather than making it available upon request and submitted by certified mail or through similar means..."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.