A quicker buildout for terrestrial pay TV?


The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that it might accelerate build-out requirements for companies that win licenses to build a terrestrial microwave competitor to cable and satellite TV.

The FCC asked whether a mandate to provide "substantial" service to license
areas within 10 years should be supplemented with a less-stringent five-year
build-out milestone, too.

Alternatively, the 10-year substantial-service deadline could itself be
shortened, the agency said.

Under the commission's standard, the general level of service to be considered
substantial is four separate transmitters per million residents in a license

Northpoint Technology and MDS America Inc., two potential bidders, have argued
that a shorter build-out requirement is needed to ensure rapid deployment and to
prevent winners from "warehousing" spectrum.

The FCC also said it is leaning toward changing the license-coverage area
from "Component Economic Areas," which the Commerce Department uses, to delineate local
markets with Nielsen Media Research "Designated Market Areas," the industry standard for measuring
TV markets.

The main benefit of DMAs, the commission said, would be to make it easier for the
terrestrial licensees to carry local TV stations, which base carriage rights on

Comments on these issues are due seven days after Tuesday's notice is
published in the Federal Register; replies one week later.

The FCC said it intends to rule in time to hold the scheduled June 25 auction
of the licenses.