C-SPAN to FCC: Protect Our C-Band

The C-band helps put the "C" in C-SPAN.

The cable-backed public affairs network made that point in comments on the FCC's proposal to share that band.

The FCC in July voted unanimously to find ways to open up the C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 Ghz) for terrestrial wireless use, either all of the 500 Mhz or some portion of it, and through either an incentive or capacity auctions, a market mechanism where incumbents voluntarily strike deals to reduce their footprint, or some other means. The vote was on a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), with a final order vote pending the fCC's consideration of the sort of comments C-SPAN and others are filing.

The C-band is currently used for satellite delivery of cable and broadcast network programming to TV and radio stations and cable head-ends. The FCC wants to open it up to wireless broadband to help close the digital divide and promote 5G, both prime directives for the commission.Broadcast and cable groups have cautioned the FCC to slow down a bit and consider the impact of sharing the band on what is essentially the distribution backbone for their respective video services. Both want the FCC to consider whether the band can be shared at all given the potential for interference, particularly if the FCC wants dynamic sharing. C-SPAN, in comments on that proposal (final comments were being filed this week), counted the ways that  its C-band home should be protected.C-SPAN said that the C-band is "essential" to its operations, that fiber is not an "equivalent" alternative (not available everywhere, it points out) that discount KU-band sattellite service is not an acceptable subsititute either (it cites historic rain-fade issues), and anything less than "full-band, full 'arc" protection for satellite earth stations, like allowing fixed point-to-multipoint (P2MP) services in the band, should be a nonstarter. C-SPAN says having to work around P2MP services would undermine the nationwide reach the service depends on.The C-band also is a backup for delivering the audio of WCSP-FM to SiriusXM and for delivering and recording its networks at the C-SPAN Video Library in Indiana

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.