NAB to FCC: ATSC 3.0 Is Next Competition Driver

Over-the-Air broadcasting is growing thanks to cord-cutters, and is well-positioned to compete against a host of rivals, but to assume that position it will need the FCC's approval to transition to the ATSC 3.0 next-generation transmission standard.

That came in comments from the National Association of Broadcasters to the FCC on the state of video programming competition.

Promoting that competition is one of the prime directives of the Wheeler FCC.

"Broadcasters are pushing forward with a new television standard, ATSC 3.0, that promises better over-the-air service, more options for consumers and more flexibility for local stations that need the ability to adapt to radical shifts in the marketplace, said the National Association of Broadcasters," said NAB.

Even with broadcasting being a "perfect complement to over-the-top video services," it continues to be "hamstrung" by analog-era regs, including the ownership restrictions that the Wheeler FCC has declined to appreciably loosen," said NAB.

In its comments, the Free State Foundation seconded that notion. "[I]t does not reflect well on the Commission that analog-era regulations, based on early-1990's perceptions about cable "bottlenecks," remain in force. The analytical underpinnings of those regulations have been swept away by dynamic marketplace changes," said Free State.

NAB also said that the spectrum auction will reshape the landscape, particularly if the FCC mucks up the repack. The FCC concluded in preserving most of its ownership regs intact that the auction was not a factor that could be factored in, since its impact was not clear.

The trade group pointed out that local news and programmer is at an all-time high, broadcasters continue to be key first informers, and that the industry should continue to be the backbone of the video programming marketplace.

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.