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Affils Give FCC Earful on C-Band

Affiliates were applying a full-court press last week to press upon the FCC the need to protect the C-band spectrum they use to receive programming from the networks.

Affiliate association representatives from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC--including Nexstar president Perry Sook representing CBS affiliates--met with all the commissioners, including the chairman, and their staffers in meetings over two days, according to an FCC document.

"The affiliates raised the issue of protecting their current use of the C-Band spectrum and the importance of that spectrum to their programming distribution and the reliance of the viewing public on the reliable delivery of video programming arising from the use of the C-Band," according to a filing by the associations about the meeting.

Broadcast and cable operators receive network programming via that C-band satellite spectrum, as well as video from remote locations.

Broadcasters and cable operators are generally of different minds, with broadcasters focusing on protecting incumbents from interference, not turning over too much of the band for a 5G auction, and not assuming the band can be entirely cleared and network distribution transitioned to fiber. Cable operators, who are eyeing that 5G spectrum too, also don't want interference to their network feeds, but generally push for more of the band to be auctioned for 5G and see a path to all-fiber.

FCC chair Ajit Pai signaled last week he expected to be voting on an item this fall to free up some of the C-band for 5G.

The affiliates also suggested the FCC and Justice Department need to foster more competition and less regulation, and talked about the state of the current post incentive-auction repack, suggesting some tweaks to the FCC program for compensating stations for their moving costs.

The FCC has a fund of over $2 billion to defray those expenses.