WBOC fires back in DTV-interference battle

The high-profile skirmish over alleged digital-TV interference to an analog
station raged on last week.

WBOC-TV Salisbury, Md., which brought the original complaint to the Federal
Communications Commission, filed a reply July 3 to the June 21 reply of
noncommercial WHRO-DT Hampton Roads, Va.

WHRO had told the FCC that it had complied with the agency's regulations,
that WBOC-TV had not demonstrated a reception problem that required FCC
intervention and that even if it had, 'there is no legal basis for the FCC to
declare WHRO-DT to be `at fault'... so long as WHRO-DT's facilities are in
compliance with FCC rules.'

In a 98-page document, WBOC-TV's attorneys argued that WHRO's response is
wrong 'as a matter of policy and law' and 'does not make sense.'

WBOC-TV submitted additional evidence of harm, including interference
reports, electronic mails, charts and a sworn statement from a Comcast Corp.
executive saying that the MSO 'has observed significant levels of interference
with WBOC-TV's signal from late April through the present' (July 3), and that
'over 2,000 complaints regarding WBOC-TV's picture' have been received from
cable viewers.

Some feared that the battle between a couple of stations on the Maryland and
Virginia shores could be the first volley in a protracted war.

'I think it's inevitable that there are going to be a lot of these problems,
and a lot of it was predicted,' said William Meintel, president of Chantilly,
Va.-based TechWare, which created the software the FCC used to make the
digital-TV-propagation tables.

'We just haven't seen it because there aren't a lot of stations on the air
and an even smaller number on-air at their full power,' he added. 'And I think
that once these stations start firing up with their full-power signals, we'll
see a lot of interference to NTSC [National Television Systems Committee], and
it may be worse than what was originally predicted.'

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.