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Broadcasters To FCC: We're Number One

The National Association of Broadcasters, joined by the major networks and their affiliate groups, don't want the FCC to declare to the world that broadcasters and wireless companies are coprimary users of the spectrum band that broadcasters have historically occupied as primary users.

Wireless companies have proposed the FCC change that designation since the FCC is reclaiming and auctioning broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband. Broadcasters oppose the move, which would weaken the interference protections it enjoys as a primary user designee and which they feel is important to preserve as the FCC attempts to weave mobile operators into the broadcast band and "harmonize" that band with international users.

That came in a filing with the FCC Tuesday on the issue of draft recommendations of the FCC advisory commission to the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference.

According to the NAB, broadcasters are united against the mobile broadband proposal, which they say would leave the U.S. as the only country without a swath of spectrum to which broadcasters can claim primary status. At the least they say, changing the designation needs more study.

"Approving the Wireless Proposal would entail ignoring scientific evidence before the commission," said the broadcasters, "and approval would also suggest that every administration has the flexibility to deploy whichever service it deems appropriate without regard to the potential effects on existing services, including those in neighboring countries."

That means, says broadcasters, that the administration, and future administrations, wanting to deploy mobile broadband in the spectrum would not have to coordinate with other countries on interference protections for broadcasters.

"The importance of this proceeding to the future of a robust free and local television service in the U.S. cannot be overstated," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. "We are hopeful the FCC rejects this wireless industry proposal, which if approved could result in harmful radio transmission interference among neighboring countries, and seriously compromise the integrity of the U.S. television airwaves."

Broadcasters recognize that the FCC may want to give primary status to mobile broadband, but says that should only be on the actual channels it occupies, not the entire band.