ATVA: FCC Should Mandate HD Before Allowing Broadcast Internet

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The American Television Alliance (ATVA) wants the FCC to require broadcasters using the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast transmission standard to deliver an HD version of their primary broadcast signal before using any of its spectrum for ancillary or supplementary services.

That came in comments to the FCC as it decides on the framework for "Promoting Broadcast Internet Innovation Through ATSC 3.0."

Related: APTS Urges FCC to Approve Broadcast Internet Item

ATVA, whose members include cable and satellite operators, also say the FCC should update, by which it means increase, the fees it charges for those ancillary broadband services, including by factoring "the value of the spectrum, the amount the spectrum would have generated via an auction, and the need to avoid unjust enrichment."

The FCC back in June voted unanimously to help promote broadcasting as a new ancillary/competitive broadband service by making it clear that legacy broadcast TV attribution and ownership regulations do not apply to broadcast-delivered internet services like over-the-top video and data made possible by the ATSC 3.0 broadcast transmission standard.

Related: FCC Says TV Stations Can Team Up for Broadcast Internet

That came in a unanimous vote via teleconference at the FCC's June 9 public meeting. The item includes a declaratory ruling on broadcast internet and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking teeing up some questions.

Per the declaratory ruling, TV stations can enter into lease agreements with any other station, or stations, in a single market to offer internet services without triggering the FCC's broadcast ownership and attribution rules. It does not eliminate the requirement that broadcasters have to deliver a TV signal on their primary channels.

Related: APTS Strongly Urges FCC to Approve Broadcast Internet Item

The NPRM seeks comment on whether other rules need to be changed or modified to deploy broadcast internet services, including asking "whether changes to our licensing structure would provide even better certainty of investment in Broadcast Internet offerings." It also asks for input on new technologies that can use the ancillary services.

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.