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Broadcasters Push for ATSC Decision By Oct. 1

In a joint filing at the FCC, commercial and noncommercial broadcasters joined with the Consumer Technology Association and others to call for the FCC to reject MVPD efforts to inject retrans issues into their request for a green light—by Oct. 1—to roll out the ATSC 3.0 interactive transmission standard.

Joining in the document were the National Association of Broadcasters, America’s Public Television Stations, the AWARN Alliance (emergency alerts), and the Consumer Technology Association.

They were filing reply comments in their petition that the FCC allow the standard, which is not compatible with current sets, to start rolling out ASAP, in part so that TV stations can take that into account in the TV station repack following the FCC's spectrum auction but more generally because it will open up new digital possibilities for broadcasters.

In the comments, they said the FCC should reject Dish efforts to make overlay its retransmission consent agenda on the issue and said the FCC should not let the American Cable Association delay the rollout.

They also argue that low-power TV stations will be "unfairly disadvantaged."

"The Commission can best encourage investment and innovation by broadcasters and other stakeholders by continuing to move expeditiously, by declining invitations to transform this proceeding into a wholesale re-evaluation of broadcaster service rules, and by ignoring narrowly self-interested efforts to delay or derail this proceeding by bogging it down in a never-ending cycle of inquiries," they wrote. "All the Commission needs to do is make small changes to its rules to allow broadcasters the option of using the new transmission standard to do more with their existing spectrum."

Broadcasters have said they would continue to simulcast their programming in the current format so viewers would not lose service. They want a decision from the FCC by Oct. 1, which is about the earliest that the FCC's spectrum auction could be wrapping up if the FCC does not have to go to a second round of reverse auction bidding.

Also weighing in with support of the petition were, among others, the four network affiliate associations, Tegna, Meredith, Hubbard, Gray and Sinclair. Sinclair told the FCC that by the end of the year it will have invested over $30 million in next generation TV.

"Now that the incentive auction is underway, it is finally possible to synchronize the deployment of Next Generation TV with the repacking of the television band next year," Sinclair said.

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.