A study from Intel that is part of the record in the spectrum auction proceeding made an awesomely simple error, the effect of which was to increase the number of US television markets by a factor of greater than 4.5x has been corrected by the NAB, but not before T-Mobile used the erroneous info in a filing of its own.
The study claimed there are some 984 television markets. That led T-Mobile to conclude that 98% of all US television markets are burdened with three or more channels from 38-51 that are targets for repacking.
The reality of course is that there are 210 markets, or Designated Market Areas as defined by Nielsen, and which are commonly used by both the television industry and the FCC.
NAB said it is apparent that Intel treated a station’s city of license as its market, and didn’t consider Nielsen data at all.
NAB highlighted some of the more ridiculous assumptions in the Intel report. For example a station licensed to Tampa is considered to be in a different market than one in Tampa-St. Petersburg; a station in Panama is considered to be in a different market than one in Panama City.
“Perhaps the most egregious error,” wrote NAB, “resulting from this approach is that the study considers Florida stations licensed to Leesburg and Melbourne to be in different markets despite the fact that the stations are located at the same transmitter site.”
But NAB wonders if that is as nuts as crowning tiny Fairbanks AK as one of the most congested markets in the US because of its seven stations in the 38-51 zone.
NAB helpfully provided the proper analysis of markets and stations in the Channel 38-51 range, stating, “The more appropriate approach would consider the effect of repacking through a DMA lens. Based on this well understood and universally utilized measurement, more than one-third of all full power and Class A TV stations (602 out of 1702 stations) in the UHF band are located above channel 37. Nearly half (45%) of all 210 DMAs have three or more channels above channel 37 (as opposed to the 2% figure in the Intel study). In fact, in the top five TV DMAs, there are 51 stations on channels above channel 37, ranging from 8 to 11 stations in each market. In the top ten DMAs, there are 91 stations above channel 37 with 6 to 11 such stations in a market. The following chart shows the distribution of stations above Channel 37 in the top 25 DMAs. The top 25 DMAs represent about 12% of the 210 TV markets and all of these markets contain 3 or more stations on channels above channel 37.”