FCC NPRM Draft: Repacked Stations Generally to Retain at Least 98% of Coverage Area
Proposed rulemaking points to initial DTV transition as guide, but seeks comment on that estimate
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/11/2012 4:28:11 PM
By statute, the FCC must make all reasonable efforts to preserve coverage areas and interference protections for stations that opt to retain some or all of their spectrum.
While the language could change between now and the planned Sept. 28 vote on the notice of proposed rulemaking, the item currently anticipates, based on the FCC's experience with moving and repacking stations for the 2009 DTV transition, that the move will "generally impact less than 2% of a station's coverage area," although it does seek comment on that.
While a more detailed model of the auction design, an appendix to the notice, is still forthcoming -- look for that to be circulated to all the commissioners this week, said one of the sources speaking on background -- the model for the broadcaster reverse auction is a "reverse clock" proposal. In that model, the FCC will ask: "Who is willing to give up spectrum for $1 million, who's in for $900,000?" and so on, until it gets to the lowest bid. Even if there are several broadcasters who stay in until that lowest bid, they won't necessarily get a payout since the FCC will have to decide through its repacking optimization model which stations make the most sense.
I suspect that all full-service stations will experience a "up to 2%" reduction in service areas whether they participate or not. Currently full-service stations are protected to 0.5% increase interference to population within their protected service contour from other facilities - if they increase that interference limit to 2% it gives them (the FCC) some more wiggle room. I think the Commission has a hard time with physical coverage area versus service population - So while the "stories" may say coverage I think they might really mean population within the protected service contour.
Tim Sawyer - 9/12/2012 4:00:27 PM EDT
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