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NAB: FCC Software Could Lowball Coverage of 1,000-Plus Stations

The National Association of Broadcasters says it has conducted new tests on the TVStudy software the FCC plans to use to calculate TV station coverage areas in the repacking and moving of stations after the broadcast incentive auction and any way you slice it, adopting that TV Study approach is arbitrary, capricious and illegal.

The FCC has said it is just updating the software, not its OET-69 methodology. NAB disagrees, but in any event, it told the FCC in a filing this week, it has conducted studies that show that even if only the software is changed, TV study is producing flawed results that could cause real-world harms to broadcasters.

The issue is therefore not an abstract legal or technical question," NAB told the commission. "Changes in coverage area and population served produced by the use of TVStudy will impose substantial burdens both on broadcast licensees that
participate in the auction and those that are subject to channel changes through the Commission’s subsequent repacking process."

And NAB says the number of potentially impacted viewers and stations is substantial, translating to "a loss of calculated population served for approximately 45% (1009 out of 2232) of the stations studied.”

For example, a station whose coverage area and population served are lowballed using the TVStudy is unlikely to get a comparable channel in the repacking since the FCC model will use that incorrect data when picking a comparable channel.

NAB wants the FCC to "shelve" the changes to OET-69.

“Broadcasters simply want the FCC to do what Congress said to do, and that was use OET-69 as it has been used and is still being used in every other context," said NAB executive VP Rick Kaplan, who submitted the comments. "What’s also disturbing is that, despite many revisions, TVStudy is still producing erroneous results even when set to the original OET-69 settings."