Channel Sharing Test Described as “Game Changer”

Posted on February 19th, 2014 by

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in a post on the FCC’s blog, has heralded an FCC-sanctioned test of the FCC’s proposal for channel-sharing by TV stations.  Channel-sharing is one way the FCC hopes to incentivize TV stations to turn in licensed spectrum and share another 6 mHz TV channel that will not be auctioned.

Chairman Wheeler toured the facility of KLCS in Los Angeles, one of the two stations involved in the channel-sharing “pilot,” stating in his blog that he had “seen the future, and it’s using 50% less bandwidth to produce a picture with increased quality of up to 300%.”  The Chairman’s comments came seven days after the Commission approved an experimental authorization for the stations to channel-share.  The other station involved is KJLA.

The experimental authorization specifies that the stations will test the technical feasibility for multiplexing signals, including multiple HD streams, and simultaneous HD and SD streams in a video compression format called H.264.  In addition, the test will examine how to modify the PSIP information provided to consumers and test various channel-sharing scenarios at off-peak hours.

The two stations had to represent to the FCC that they will use their portion of the shared channel consistent with FCC rules (one station is noncommercial) during the test.  To extend the 6-month experimental authorization, the stations must file a report providing detailed data and responses required for experimental operations.  Even if not extended, the FCC requires a filing by July 6, 2014 of a report detailing the research, experimentation and results, showing both positive and negative aspects of the test (we assume it will be publicized by the FCC).  If an unusual problem or condition arises during the tests, the stations must inform the FCC at the time they occur.  The stations can terminate the experimental tests at any time by notifying the FCC.