Big Bird to FCC: MVPDs' Approach to ATSC 3.0 Doesn't Fly

PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and America's Public Television Stations, which have been doing their FCC commenting collectively as "PTV," have told the FCC it should reject some MVPDs' suggestion that public TV stations pay the costs for operators to receive the new ATSC 3.0 signals.

That came in reply comments filed with the FCC, due this week, on its proposal to let broadcasters roll out the new IP-based transmission standard on a voluntary basis. FCC chair Ajit Pai has said he wants to have a final order allowing that rollout ready for a commission vote by year's end.

Related: Sinclair Takes Aim at MVPDs Over ATSC 3.0

In the filing, PTV pointed out that some MVPDs asked the FCC in their comments to require stations to cover both the costs of getting the signal to the MVPD and the costs MVPDs "may incur" in receiving and transmitting the signal.

PTV called that an attempt to punish stations for voluntary deployment of next-generation television.

"[T]the Commission should reject requests to shift that cost to public television stations," the noncoms said. "The fact that a PTV station may make its ATSC 1.0 signal available via an arrangement with a transmission partner is no basis for changing this well-established division of responsibilities."

The FCC has proposed allowing stations to take a Jack Spratt approach to the transition, with one station delivering both its own and an in-market partner's signal in ATSC 3.0, while the other station broadcasts both its own ATSC 1.0 signal (the current standard) and its partner's.

PTV, which was one of the original petitioners that asked for the ATSC 3.0 rollout, is squarely behind that approach and, for regulatory purposes, treating the originator as the regulatory entity. That way, noncoms could share with commercial stations, since the noncom would be credited as the originator, rather than the commercial partner that was delivering the noncom signals.

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.