NAB to FCC: Save Our Translators

The National Association of Broadcasters has told the FCC that it should not try to reclaim more spectrum in smaller markets than large for the incentive auction because that could "wipe out" the translator services that help full-power station signals, particularly in Western states, reach remote areas.

In a meeting with FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn and staffers, and with staffers of commissioner Michael O'Rielly, NAB said that "under no circumstances should the FCC adopt a [variable band] plan where it would repurpose more spectrum in rural America – where there is an excess supply of spectrum for mobile broadband – than in major urban areas, such as New York and Los Angeles."

Translators, like most full powers, are not protected in the FCC's repack of stations after the auction.

NAB says that many markets out West are too large to reach without translators. For example, it pointed out, the Spokane DMA if superimposed on the Northeast would stretch from Baltimore to Buffalo.

NAB pointed out that wireless operators also have trouble with a variable band plan.

"[G]iven the very real harm that the proposed variable band plan will create by displacing translators," NAB argued that the commission should take its cue from the AWS-3 auction, which it called a "triumph of simplicity, offering a nationwide plan with clean, unimpaired licenses."

The FCC has said it may need to repack some TV stations into the wireless portion of the band.

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.