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UPDATED: FCC Proposes DMA-Level Phased Repack

30/09/2016

WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a phased-in repack following the TV spectrum incentive auction. The transition will involve a market-by-market approach, concentrating on moving stations within individual designated market area in no more than two moves.

The post-auction transition will involve moving many TV station signals to new channels. The Transition Scheduling Plan Public Notice (TSPPN) is the staffs proposal for an orderly transition, it said. FCC officials emphasized that the TSPPN comprises a proposal and implored stakeholders to file comments. Those comments are due Oct. 31, (on MB Docket No. 16-306/GN Docket No. 12-268). Replies are due Nov. 17. The commission also said it would host a webinar on the TSPPN Oct. 13.

The TSPPN makes no mention of ATSC 3.0, the over-the-air transmission standard being compiled by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, and targeted for an early 2017 completion. Commission officials reiterated their intention of considering auction activities independently of the approval process for allowing broadcasting to adopt ATSC 3.0, an IP-based platform that would enable broadband-like connectivity.

The TSPPN outlines a 10-phase transition and announces that TV stations will receive confidential letters with their final channel assignments shortly after the final stage rule is satisfied so they can finalize equipment orders. Vendors will likely need a quick turn-around on this information to commence fabrication of transmitters and antennas, for example. The tool developed by the commission to determine when to move stations is said to anticipate vendor schedules.

This Phase Scheduling Tool, is said to take into account current manufacturer inventories, ordering, manufacturing and delivery times, as well as the time required for planning and zoning, legal work and pre-construction tower alterations, and coordination with other stations within a Designated Market Area. This Phase Scheduling Tool is described in the TSPPN at some length.

The question of 3.0 equipment remains unknown for the time being, but an FCC official did say that the Widelity Report, first published in 2014, would be updated to reflect 2016 prices very soon.

The proposal assigns each station into one of 10 transition phases with staggered completion dates to ease coordination issues and enable the commission to track progress. The dates all fall within the previously established 39-month deadline for all stations assigned to new channels to move from their current channels. But as the graphic below indicates, not all stations will have 39 months to make the switch. The earliest would have a little over a year to vacate their current channel in what the commission describes as the hypothetical schedule illustrated in the graphic below.
LINK: http://www.tvtechnology.com/news/0002/fcc-proposes-phased-repack/27953...
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