EOBC: FCC Needs to Fix Class A Calculation Problem

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition has told the FCC it has identified a problem with its TVStudy software inputs that appears to lowball the coverage areas of Class A TV stations, the low-power TV stations that are allowed to participate in the broadcast incentive auction and whose coverage areas and interference protections the FCC must strive to preserve.

EOBC represents TV stations who are willing to offer up spectrum at the right price, which will be determined in part by the size of their coverage area and its impact on other stations in the repacking, part of the FCC's Rubik's cube of calculations.

In "informal" comments to the FCC, the coalition says the FCC calculations of antenna patterns are off base, and so much so that it will have "a tremendous negative impact on certain Class A TV stations both in the auction and the subsequent repack," says EOBC Executive Director Preston Padden in the filing. "First, it will unfairly reduce compensation for affected stations considering auction participation. Second, it will result in a failure to identify many unacceptable repacking scenarios—leading to real world interference after the auction that will, in some cases, greatly exceed the predictions in TVStudy."

Padden says the FCC needs to change the antenna values ASAP so they reflect the same ones the agency has been using "for years" to calculate Class A TV stations and to avoid unnecessary delay. The auction has already been pushed back at least six months, which the FCC attributes in a part to broadcaster lawsuits.

The National Association of Broadcasters has also taken aim at the FCC's repacking calculations. But while EOBC comments are informal, NAB has taken the FCC to court over the issue of how the FCC's repacking software does, or does not, accurately preserve and protect TV stations coverage areas. Sinclair has sued the FCC over the entire auction proposal.

John Eggerton

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.