Small-Market Stations Lose on Spectrum Takeback

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TV stations beyond the largest 30 markets may be out of luck when it comes to winning compensation for losing some backhaul spectrum used to beam news and sports coverage from remote locations to their studios. The FCC Monday altered rules for reallocating the spectrum on the 2 GHz band and turning some of the frequencies to mobile satellite communications companies.

New users in markets between 31 and 210 were granted up to 10 years to negotiate payments and move into their new allotments. That means broadcasters in markets as large as Nashville, Tenn., Cincinnati and Milwaukee will have little choice but to buy updated equipment out of their own pockets or risk interference when larger market broadcasters cover the same story using new equipment.

Coordination between the two groups of stations will be "almost impossible, particularly in emergency situations where spectrum planning cannot be done in advance," wrote NAB and MSTV in a letter to the FCC Friday anticipating Monday’s result.

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