Public TV to FCC: MVPD ATSC 3.0 Approach Doesn't Fly

PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and America's Public Television Stations—which have been doing their FCC commenting business collectively as "PTV"—have told the FCC it should reject some MVPDs' suggestion that they pay the costs for receiving the new ATSC 3.0 signals.

That came in reply comments filed with the FCC—they were due this week—on its proposal to let broadcasters roll out the new IP-based transmission standard on a voluntary basis. FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said he wants to have a final order allowing that rollout ready for a commission vote by year's end. 

In the filing, PTV pointed out that some MVPDs asked the FCC in their comments to require stations to cover both its costs of getting the signal to the MVPD and the costs MVPDs "may incur" in receiving it and transmitting.

PTV called that an attempt to punish stations for voluntary deployment of next generation television.

"[T]he Commission should reject requests to shift that cost to public television stations," the noncoms said. "The fact that a PTV station may make its ATSC 1.0 signal available via an arrangement with a transmission partner is no basis for changing this well-established division of responsibilities." 

The FCC is proposing allowing stations to take a Jack Spratt approach to the transition, with one station delivering both its own and an in-market partner's signal in ATSC 3.0, while the other station broadcasts both its own ATSC 1.0 signal (the current standard) and its partner's.

PTV, which was one of the original petitioners that asked for the ATSC 3.0 rollout, is squarely behind that approach and in treating, for regulatory purposes, the originator as the regulatory entity. That way, noncoms could share with commercial stations, since the noncom would be credited as the originator, rather than the commercial partner that was delivering the noncom signals.

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.