A delegation of NAB staffers met with FCC Office of Engineering and Technology staffers and others in an effort to forestall changes in the way contours are measured for stations moving to a new channel location. NAB expressed surprise at the changes and predicted delays if they are instated.
For starters, NAB stated that the intent of the legislation giving the FCC authority to conduct the auction in the first place makes it clear that it was intended to be implemented under rules that were in place at the time the legislation was enacted; by changing after the fact, NAB says the end result is a great deal of uncertainty for broadcasters with no commensurate apparent benefit to the success of the auction.
It said the biggest issue was the “revisiting how ‘flagged’ cells in Longley-Rice are addressed, which could affect the coverage area and population served for some stations by 25-30%. The plan to change the treatment of these areas can only be described as a change in methodology, and thus a strong case could be made that they violate the express language in the Spectrum Act.”
It also said such a decision should be made at the Commission rather than the staff level, and that it would introduce a whole new layer of complexity into a project already burdened with a high degree of engineering difficulty.
NAB suggested that FCC engineering resources could be put to better use trying to resource the incredibly thorny situation for channels near the Canadian and Mexican borders.
NAB said it has no intrinsic objection to revisiting theses rules. But it concluded, “that such a review must take place apart from the incentive auction process, and as part of a notice-and-comment rulemaking. A proper review of OET-69 requires the surfacing of dozens of difficult engineering issues, their discussion and debate, and conducting serious engineering analysis. This proceeding is not an appropriate forum because, beyond speeding up the processing of the nationwide repack – which can be done through other means – the package of changes contemplated are highly unlikely to yield any appreciable benefit for stakeholders in the auction. Rather, as the Commission has previously found in addressing this area, they will result in uncertainty and disruption.”
NAB’s full ex parte filing can be read here: