NAB to FCC: Don't Depose 'King Content' in C-Band Revamp

The FCC should not trample content in its race to open up more spectrum for wireless broadband.

That was the message from the National Association of Broadcasters in comments on the FCC's proposal to open up the C-band.

"If premium programming--including live sports, entertainment and news –cannot be reliably distributed, the fastest 5G network in the world will have far less value and the prize for winning will be a participation trophy instead of a substantial economic boost," it told the FCC. 

"If, in haste to slip on a pair of running shoes, the Commission focuses only on reallocating as much spectrum as possible, it could inadvertently stifle consumer benefits such as 4K and high dynamic range video programming," it said.

The FCC in July voted unanimously to find ways to open up the C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 GHz) for terrestrial wireless use, either all of the 500 Mhz or some portion of it, and through either an incentive or capacity auctions, a market mechanism where incumbents voluntarily strike deals to reduce their footprint, or some other means. 

The C-band is currently used for satellite delivery of cable and broadcast network programming to TV and radio stations, satellite radio services, and cable head-ends. The FCC wants to open it up to wireless broadband to help close the digital divide and promote 5G, both prime directives for the commission.

Related: NAB Says C-Band Sharing Isn't a Given

NAB said it was not endorsing any particular proposal, but that whatever the FCC decides, it needs to do three things. 1) "ensure that existing C-band operations are fully protected in any plan to allow expanded operations in the band"; 2) "proceed judiciously in making reallocation decisions in the band and balance public interest considerations of both future wireless operations and future expansion of content distribution requirements as video programming evolves"; 3) "under no circumstance should the Commission degrade satellite C-band use by allowing shared operations in the non-reallocated portion of the band."

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.