Sinclair Takes Aim at MVPDs Over ATSC 3.0

Sinclair Broadcasting said MVPDs have been "vastly overstating" the impact on ATSC 3.0 on their business, including making false claims about royalties from patents related to the new broadcast transmission technology and disingenuous assertions about how their systems work.

The station owner's charges came in reply comments on the FCC's proposal to allow broadcasters to voluntarily roll out ATSC 3.0.

Related: MVPDs Want Retrans Buffer in ATSC Rollout

Sinclair argued that cable operators are using the rollout to justify a laundry list new regulations on broadcasters' carriage rights, calling it a "transparent" attempt to hijack the proceedings" and turn it into a referendum on retrans.

Related: ACA to FCC: Consider ATSC 3.0 Impact on Smaller MVPDs

MVPDs have told the FCC that broadcasters should have to separate ATSC 3.0 carriage from carriage of their 1.0 signals so that they can't effectively compel 3.0 carriage.

"Most of the MVPDs' asks are rehashed versions of the same overbearing rules they have failed to secure in a decade of direct challenges to the free marketplace retransmission regime Congress adopted."

While some commenters have said the ATSC 3.0 rollout could affect the timeline for repacking stations post-auction, Sinclair said flatly, "It will not."

That said, it still thinks the 39-month timeline is "wholly unrealistic," but said the ATSC 3.0 rollout does not increase the time needed for repacking.

Sinclair also took aim at the suggestion that broadcasters be treated "as secondary to unlicensed white spaces devices."

Computer companies want to make sure that broadcasters don't get any extra spectrum for ATSC 3.0 from channels they wants reserved for wireless broadband.

"The hard capacity limits of existing stations will be stretched during ATSC 3.0 rollout as the same stations attempt to double the number of streams they transmit with the same spectrum assignments," Sinclair told the FCC. "The Commission should make vacant channels available to broadcasters, or to groups of broadcasters, on a temporary basis to improve service to consumers during the transition."

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.