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Spectrum Reclamation Shouldn’t‘Harm’ Cable, Trade Group Tells FCC

Washington — The National Cable & Telecommunications
Association is OK with TV stations being repacked
or sharing channels, as long as that does not mean cable
gains more must-carry obligations in the process.

The trade group has taken no position on whether broadcasters
should be paid to exit the spectrum to free up space
to give mobile broadband more breathing room.

The NCTA shared its views on spectrum reclamation with
the Federal Communications Commission, which is weighing
whether to allow channels to share spectrum and move
closer together to free up contiguous blocks for broadband,
for example.

The National Association of Broadcasters has said TV stations
should be “held harmless” by making spectrum reclamation
an entirely voluntary process that does not force
repacking and includes compensating broadcasters.

The NCTA has its own definition of that term. It includes
compensating cable operators for any spectrum repacking-
related expenditures. It also includes the FCC ruling
out increased must-carry obligations as an incentive to get
broadcasters to give up spectrum.

The NCTA wants to make sure there will be no mandate
to carry standard-definition signals in HD, which is one way
the FCC could sweeten the deal for broadcasters that volunteer
to reduce over-the-air spectrum holdings.

It also wants to rule out extending must-carry to broadcasters’
multicast signals, or granting a must-carry right to
stations that give up their over-the-air allocation altogether.

The NCTA said that if cable operators are required to buy
new antennas to accommodate channel moves, they should
be paid out of any mechanism used to compensate broadcasters.

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.