Kaplan: FCC Is Ignoring Consequences of Variable Plan

Rick Kaplan, executive VP of strategic planning for the
National Association of Broadcasters, said Tuesday that the FCC staff is
ignoring the interference consequences of their proposed variable band plan.

"The staff steadfastly refuses to study the issue with
any rigor, model it or even ask a single question about it," he said in
a blog posting

FCC Wireless Bureau Chief Ruth Milkman bloggedlast week that broadcasters are misrepresenting their own proposal as a
consensus plan, and that variability is key to a successful auction.

But Kaplan, himself a former FCC Wireless Bureau chief,
suggests that the FCC is confusing unanimity with consensus. "Have we
found unanimity? Of course not. To be clear; reaching consensus is not the same
thing as unanimity," he says. "Certainly everyone doesn't have to
agree for a general consensus to emerge. Our work has moved the ball far down
the field on typically contentious issues. And we believe strongly that the
Commission staff should have adopted, and should be adopting, a "get in
the room together" approach so we can achieve an expeditious and
successful conclusion to the pre-auction process."

He says industry players have been filling the void left by
the FCC's failure to drive consensus.

He says the problem with a variable band plan is
this: "If Market A (e.g., New York) clears less spectrum than adjacent
Market B (e.g., Philadelphia) and therefore Market A continues to have
broadcast operations on channel X (e.g., channel 46) while Market B moves to
wireless operations on that same channel, the wireless and broadcast operations
on that shared channel will interfere with one another. There is no doubt this
is a serious issue. And even though the Wireless Bureau dismissed the problem
without any analysis (in a nonsensical footnote in its Public Notice),
following the bureau's Public Notice, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Qualcomm,
Ericsson and others have joined in to second the notion that further work on
the subject is required."

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.