Public Broadcasters Want To Hold On To Spectrum
Arguing that their use is efficient and productive, and abundantly serves the public interest
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/16/2009 1:17:42 PM
In filings with the FCC and in a meeting with FCC staffers last week at those staffers' request, PBS representatives made their case for why broadcasters should be allowed to continue their multiplatform strategy and how critical the over-the-air DTV component is to it.
The FCC is contemplating how to free up spectrum for wireless broadband. Broadcasters are a big part of that conversation due to the propagation characteristics of their spectrum, which make it beachfront real estate for wireless broadband.
"The free and universal nature of over-the-air broadcasting enables PBS and its member stations to ensure that virtually every household has access to robust, educational content and services, regardless of financial ability or geographic location," PBS told the commission, according to a disclosure statement filed with the FCC.
PBS has pointed out in earlier comments at the commission that their spectrum allocation allows them to deliver HD programming, multicast channels, datacasting services, enhanced emergency alerts when "other communications systems are hopelessly over-taxed."
PBS also argues that public TV is helping drive broadband adoption by increasingly melding its on-air and online content offerings.
Also weighing in from the noncommercial side in defense of broadcast spectrum were a host of public station licensees including universities, state commissions, and nonprofits.
They pointed out that they had borrowed money and spent millions to upgrade to broadcast in digital, which they would need to do to make that money back. They also pointed out they had raised money from viewers with the expectation that it was going to the ongoing digital broadcasting system.
In their comments, commercial broadcasters pointed out that the government and consumers had spent billions on the DTV transition. "This is a point that, for public television stations, simply cannot be understated," said the groups.
"Each of the Public TV Licensees has spent millions of dollars, in many cases tens of millions of dollars, to convert their transmission systems to digital service, implement the transition and acquire digital program production, origination and interconnection facilities. In these extremely difficult times, these funds were raised from institutional licensees, charitable donors, foundations, state governments, and the Federal government, all provided with the firm expectation that these funds, and the facilities they purchased, would continue to provide public television services."
I have mix feelings on posting this comment. I want to see OTA TV survive, but in area I live I find the commitment from public broadcast to OTA disingenuous. Our local PBS affiliate has shut down all it's translators, (even though some of them are still license up to 2015). When corresponding with the station manager, he inform me they had no intentions of starting the translators again, too much money and no one was watching them. Well I knew people (other then myself), who indeed watch them via their translators. I have a laptop with a TV tuner card and I work on the road, for the fun of it I sometime stop at a real good location and do a channel scan, I have been able to pick up every local station, except the PBS station, even when I am almost on top of them. The bottom line, many public broadcaster at least in this part of NY, appear to rely on cable TV and other pay services, to transmit their signal. In the case of those stations an end to OTA, would save them money.
Warren Lambing - 11/17/2009 8:29:12 AM EST
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