NAB: TV Stations Need Simulcast Flexibility

Broadcasters have told the FCC that it should let broadcasters use vacant channels in the TV band for broadcasters, rather than turning them over for broadband use, given that the TV band is all broadcasters have--and less of that after the incentive auction--while the FCC is freeing up unlicensed spectrum for broadband in multiple bands.

That came in the National Association of Broadcasters' comments to the FCC on the rollout of the ATSC 3.0 next gen broadcast transmission standard.

"Encouraging stations to use vacant in-band channels, where available, is one of the most productive steps the Commission and broadcasters can take to minimize the potential for consumer disruption and help speed the transition," NAB told the commission.

Related: NAB Pitches 50% UHF/VHF Discount

NAB said that is the better use of the spectrum than turning it over to so-called TV white spaces operations, which would turn the concept of unlicensed being secondary to licensed services "on its head" and a betrayal of promises the FCC made when it authorized unlicensed use in the TV band.

NAB also wants a flexible standard for waivers of the FCC's requirement that TV stations' current ATSC 1.0 transmission and next gen ATSC 3.0 signal be simulcast. Cable operators have been pushing for narrowly targeted waivers.

"An inflexible standard runs the risk of limiting innovations for over-the-air viewers while pay-TV providers continue to charge consumers for the improved features [like the 4K signals ATSC 3.0 allows broadcasters to deliver] they desparately want to prevent broadcasters from offering for free."

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.