NAB Refutes ‘Ghosts’ Claims About Next Gen Tuner Mandate

Mobile carriers and their technology suppliers needlessly "fear a ghost" in their filings to the Federal Communications Commission, which ask the agency to reject a tuner mandate for the Next Generation TV, standard, the National Association of Broadcasters said on Monday.

"Neither NAB nor any of our fellow Next Generation TV petitioners have ... sought such a mandate, and in fact have expressly stated several times that we do not seek such a mandate," said NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton.

NAB placed an explanation on Monday into the Commission's Next Gen TV Notice of Proposed Rulemaking file (Docket 16-142), urging the FCC to ignore recent submissions from six companies that include strong opposition to the non-existent mandate. NAB cited comments submitted during the past few months by Motorola Mobility, T-Mobile USA, Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Ericsson, Nokia and Ethertronics, Inc.

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"It is curious that some key players in the wireless industry display such great fear over the potential of increased competition for mobile video delivery," NAB Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden said. "Why else would this list of companies fear a ghost?"

"If anything, the Commission should recognize that this advocacy demonstrates the potential of Next Gen TV to create real competition in the marketplace," McFadden added.

Sources close to the FCC process told B&C that it is unclear how the tuner mandate issue was suddenly inserted into the discussion in recent weeks. Others have speculated that Sinclair Broadcasting Group, with its recent investment in Indian chip maker Saankhya Labs to develop ATSC 3.0 chipsets for consumer devices, may have revived old concerns about requiring mobile devices to receive broadcast signals.

Spokesmen from Sinclair and the companies raising the issue in recent FCC filings were not available for immediate response.

In its official comments about the proposed Next Gen TV rulemaking, the FCC has indicated that no tuner mandate would be included. Chairman Ajit Pai has said that he wants to issue rules for the Next Gen broadcast television transmission standard by year's end, and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly even more optimistically has said he'd like to complete the proceeding before Halloween - and that was before "ghosts" were invoked.

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.