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ATVA to FCC: ATSC 3.0 Error Requires Fixing

Cable and satellite operators want the FCC to dismiss broadcaster objections to a petition asking the agency to rethink its approach to the ATSC 3.0 advanced broadcast transmission rollout.  

That came in comments by the American Television Alliance in reply to broadcaster opposition to the ATVA's petition to reconsider several key elements of the rollout plan.

Broadcasters have asked the FCC to dismiss the petition because it relied partially on arguments made to the commission before the agency decided on the ATSC 3.0 framework--a decision that did not go the way cable and satellite operators had wanted.

But the ATVA said the FCC can grant a petition relying on such arguments, as long as the petitioners can show some "material error or omission" in the ATSC 3.0 order.

ATVA said it can, the chief error being that the agency did not require separate negotiations for current ATSC 1.0 and the new ATSC 3.0 signals; broadcasters are required to simulcast them for five years, except for low-power stations, which will have the ability to flash-cut to the new signals. 

ATVA said flash-cutting for low powers is also a mistake and that the FCC should also have required broadcasters to warn viewers and MVPDs before they degrade signals.

While those could sound like decisions ATVA disagreed with rather than errors, a communications attorney speaking not for attribution said ATVA has a case. 

"The ATVA is essentially correct," the attorney said. "What the Commission says is that, while it can reject a petition for reconsideration which re-argues matters previously decided, the Commission can also, if it so chooses, act on such petitions.

"The bottom line is that if the Commission wants to consider an argument, it will do so," the attorney added. "However, if it wants to blow them off for this reason, it can do that, too."

The ATVA wants the FCC to: "(1) require separate negotiations for first-time carriage of ATSC 3.0 signals; (2) require low-power and translator stations [low-powers that extend full-power signals to hard-to-reach areas] to simulcast; and (3) require stations to provide prior notice to viewers and MVPDs before being allowed to degrade signal format or picture quality [say, from HD to standard definition]."