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Add Gray To Spectrum of Sinclair Support For Flexible Use

Gray Television is backing Sinclair's request that the FCC allow broadcasters flexibility to test out other than the approved ATSC transmission standard if they give up repacking compensation for a flexible use waiver to test new services on their spectrum.

The FCC has proposed to allow broadcasters the option of using their spectrum for broadcast purposes in lieu of seeking a portion of the $1.75 billion that incentive auction legislation has set aside for broadcast and cable moving expenses when the FCC consolidated broadcast spectrum to make room for wireless broadband.

Sinclair has asked the FCC to take a broad interpretation of that "flexible use" waiver to allow for the most experimentation as broadcasters figure out how to compete in a multi-platform, broadband-centric marketplace.

In a letter to the FCC Monday (Oct. 21), Gray TV President Hilton Howell Jr. said Gray supports that approach, particularly allowing the use of a standard other than one approved by ATSC and says the opportunity should be available to all broadcasters, whether they wind up needing to be repacked or not, and that the FCC should streamline the process of granting the waivers.

Gray says the FCC should come up with a standard waiver, and do so well before the incentive auction.

And while Gray says the FCC should allow stations to experiment, ad hoc, with a new standard, it also says that is not a substitute for the FCC's consideration of a new standard.

Sinclair signaled in comments on the FCC's September 2012 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on incentive auctions that the FCC's goal should be to make the auction a success for broadcasters, too, which would include allowing for the development of a next-generation broadcast technical standard that would allow TV service to improve, not just survive, the government push toward wireless broadband.

That could include using broadcast spectrum to offload wireless traffic during peak periods. Sinclair has been arguing for a couple of years at least that spectrum could be more useful in broadcasters hands if the government allowed them to provide a wireless "overlay" service using its more efficient one-to-many delivery system.