UPDATE: CTIA: ATSC 3.0 Tech Shouldn't Get Repack Funds

Related: Broadcasters Ask FCC For ATSC 3.0 Rollout

Wireless carriers have told the FCC it should not pay any extra for ATSC 3.0 equipment if that proves to be part of the TV station repack equation following the spectrum auction or change its timeline to accommodate a new transmission standard.

The major trade group for commercial broadcasters signaled they would not be asking for any extra money.

Broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial, have petitioned the FCC to allow them to roll out the interactive ATSC 3.0 transmission standard during the repack, in part so that if they have to buy new equipment, it could be ATSC 3.0-compliant.

CTIA: The Wireless Association told the FCC in reply comments on that petition—due June 27—that it applauds broadcaster efforts to "continue to evolve and serve their viewers."

But CTIA also said that the FCC should not allow that effort to affect the planned 39-month timeline for the repack or budget for the move.

"Neither Congress in the Spectrum Act nor the Commission at the time it adopted rules envisioned that a technology upgrade would accompany the repacking," said CTIA. "Particularly given broadcast concerns about the sufficiency of the $1.75 billion [relocation] fund, broadcasters should be responsible for any costs associated with ATSC 3.0 equipment that are beyond the costs associated with repacking based on current technology."

In fact, CTIA says the FCC should get assurances from broadcasters that they won't seek reimbursement costs for any added costs for ATSC 3.0.

The National Association of Broadcasters was not waiting to be asked, signaling to B&C that it would not be looking for extra money from the fund.

“Most broadcast transmission equipment on the market today is compatible with or easily upgradeable to support Next Generation transmissions," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. "Broadcasters may have to make additional investments on their own to take full advantage of the ATSC 3.0 standard, but we neither seek nor do we expect additional costs associated with upgrading to ATSC 3.0 to be borne out of the repacking fund.”

CTIA is also worried about potential interference to wireless companies from the new transmissions.

"Just as NAB argued that detailed technical information regarding wireless deployments was essential to minimizing inter-service interference to broadcasters [in the post-auction repack], so too should broadcasters provide interested parties with a clear understanding of how the change to ATSC 3.0 will impact the interference environment in the 600 MHz band."

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.