TV Repacking Concerns Raised

Posted on December 17th, 2013 by

NAB is sounding alarms on the FCC’s plans to repack the TV spectrum after the incentive auction is held, warning that it will be far more complex than the DTV transition.  According to NAB, while the DTV transition involved about 100 stations that each had a second channel to facilitate the transition, post-auction repacking will involve over 500 stations flash-cutting to a new digital frequency.  Coordination with cable, satellite and other pay-TV providers will be critical, as will a well-informed public.  NAB offered its views at a hearing of the Commerce Committee, and has presented them to the FCC’s engineering team.

NAB has also expressed concern about the FCC’s planned use of “proxy” channels to measure interference during repacking, claiming that such “approximizations” cut corners and could result in service losses or gains in a significantly large number of instances.  In a study conducted by NAB, the latest version of the FCC’s repacking software showed different results using proxy versus actual channels for interference analysis.  For VHF channels, such differences showed up 77% of the time, with an 88% difference for UHF channels.  Further, roughly a third to half of stations would experience a loss of service, and more than 500 stations had a loss of service greater than .5%, the proposed limit of new interference from the repacking.  NAB has offered alternative approaches, including one that calculates interference for every possible channel that could be assigned in repacking, and another that would use the proxy channel system as a guide, but require the FCC to confirm between auction rounds that new interference would be limited to .5%.