Posts tagged ‘Broadcasters’

Representing Broadcasters and True Incentive Auction Success

Guest Blogger: NAB Spectrum Expert Rick Kaplan, Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning

At last week’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on “Crafting a Successful Incentive Auction,” the executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC) sounded the alarm that the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) upcoming incentive auction was on the path to complete failure. The reason? The FCC is allegedly not moving fast enough to inform broadcasters exactly how much money the agency plans on shelling out for their spectrum licenses and that the agency may be considering reverse auction rules that approximate the actual value of spectrum licenses. He concluded that anything that gets in the way of paying broadcasters handsomely for their spectrum licenses is going to lead to auction catastrophe.

Let me ease your minds: There is no cause for alarm. The sky is not falling. Broadcasters are patient, digesting what emerges from the FCC and recognize that this is a long, complex process.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), along with the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), represents the true interests of all broadcasters. Our aim is to serve America’s local broadcasters and to expand their opportunities in the 21st century, whatever they might be. We have members who will continue broadcasting for decades to come and others that may look to the incentive auction as an opportunity to exit the business after a long history of serving their communities.

The EOBC, while apparently made up of companies that hold licenses in the broadcast band (its membership list is a closely guarded secret), does not represent broadcasters. In many respects, this group seems to stand in stark contrast to what is in the best interests of broadcasters and broadcasting. Its mission is singular: to capitalize on regulatory arbitrage. Its aim is to make sure that its members are paid as much money as possible and paid as quickly as possible for their spectrum licenses. 

While there is nothing wrong with having one’s own interests at heart, we must take the comments of this coalition in that context. This context explains why, as opposed to NAB, APTS, as well as the representatives of wireless companies and associations, cable companies and associations and public interest groups, the EOBC is not concerned with the resulting 600 MHz band plan, how international coordination impacts the future of television, interoperability, co-channel interference, or any other issue beyond how much they get paid and how quickly. The day their checks are cashed, their engagement in this auction ends; the EOBC has no interest in the subsequent repacking or consumer welfare.

The FCC staff is working hard to solve dozens of challenges in this extremely complicated auction. The agency is not close – nor should it be at this point – to determining starting prices in markets or even to confirming which markets are eligible for auction. These are very difficult questions among many others that need to be sorted out over time.

If done right, the FCC will make it as easy as possible for willing broadcasters to participate in the auction. In practice, this means ensuring that broadcasters understand the rules of the road and that their participation does not require an army of economists or mathematicians. There should be low barriers to entry. The process will take time, and in all likelihood will require the cooperation of those such as NAB and APTS, that truly represent broadcasters. These broadcast advocates want to weigh the potential benefits of participation, not just quick-hit investors looking to turn a quick profit because of the government’s unique offer to buy back licenses.

NAB has been engaged with the FCC to ensure the auction’s success and viewer protection from start to finish. Success for us includes, but goes far beyond, those looking to profit on their licenses. So, when Congress, the FCC and the public ask where broadcasters stand, and how can we ensure success for the auction – both for participants and non-participants – they should look to NAB and APTS. These associations represent America’s television broadcasters – not just companies that happen to hold licenses – and are focused on both the short- and long-term success of the industry. 

December 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

Local TV News is the Top Conversation Starter!

One of the primary benefits of local TV stations is that they keep you informed and in touch with your community. Whether covering the high school football game or hosting a local health fair, broadcasters are the best at serving their communities. New research suggests local stations are also the best at spurring water cooler conversations.

A recent survey found that local TV news is a top conversation starter, beating cable channels, as well as social media. Weather, tends to dominate the conversation, with 82 percent of survey respondents saying they discuss the weather every day.

A few key takeaways from the survey:

  • Local TV news is three times more likely to start a conversation than digital media;
  • About 25 percent of conversations on news topics were sparked by local newscasts (versus 17 percent started by broadcast network news and 11 percent by cable); and
  • Local news spurred more conversation than any other programming – including network primetime.

You may not realize that even if you’re watching a national cable channel cover important breaking news, they are actually using a local broadcast station’s signal for on-the-ground footage.

Broadcasters pride themselves on being a trusted source of local news. They are also delivering their highly-valued local content to different platforms through mobile television, such as smartphones and laptops, giving viewers more opportunities to watch their local news on the go.

What do you count on your local TV stations for?

October 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Members of Congress are Standing Up for Rural TV Viewers

More than 22.4 million American households (representing 59.7 million viewers) receive television exclusively through over-the-air broadcast signals – not a pay service such as cable or satellite. These viewers rely solely on free, broadcast TV for their local news, favorite broadcast programs and emergency information. Without broadcast TV, these rural households, which include farmers, ranchers and small rural communities, would be left without a critical lifeline during times of crisis.

From the devastation created by Hurricane Sandy and the tornadoes in Oklahoma earlier this summer, we have seen the vital role broadcasters play in communities, especially in times of tragedy. Time and time again, local TV and radio stations help warn citizens when a weather emergency is approaching and help rebuild after the storm.

But beyond times of danger, many viewers in rural America depend on local TV and radio to learn of important issues that may affect their livelihoods. Farmers and ranchers especially depend on broadcasters for weather information and agriculture news.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) upcoming first-ever incentive spectrum auction could threaten rural broadcast TV viewers’ access to local channels, because of the low-power stations and TV translators used to deliver broadcast signals. To learn more about how the spectrum auction may impact rural viewers, click here.

Members of Congress realize the importance of broadcast TV in isolated communities that range from mountainous regions to farmland across the country, and are voicing their concerns to the FCC with a letter to Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. We applaud these members of Congress for recognizing the valuable role broadcast TV plays in rural communities.

August 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm 1 comment

Working Toward an Effective Band Plan

Today AT&T, the National Association of Broadcasters and Verizon jointly posted the following blog:


The TV broadcast spectrum incentive auction proceeding raises some of the most difficult engineering challenges the FCC has ever faced. One thing is clear:  a successful auction must start with an effective band plan. A band plan must seek to mitigate interference challenges to the greatest extent possible while offering blocks of spectrum best suited for deployment by U.S. wireless carriers. Otherwise, it will drive down the value of the spectrum and likely undermine the auction’s success.

With that in mind, broadcasters, wireless carriers and equipment manufacturers have spent an enormous amount of time, energy and expense reviewing and commenting on the optimal framework for the 600 MHz band. Hundreds of pages of comments have been filed, two industry consensus letters have been submitted and the FCC just recently convened a day-long workshop to discuss this issue. The result is growing consensus for adoption of a “down from 51” framework that seeks to maximize paired allocations and build guard bands only to meet engineering necessity. This approach reflects the best collective engineering judgment of the companies most affected by the auction, including those that will spend billions of dollars to purchase 600 MHz licenses at auction and billions more to develop and deploy the spectrum in U.S. wireless networks.

Despite these significant advances, on Chairman Julius Genachowski’s last day, a Public Notice was released seeking comment on two alternative band plan frameworks, one reversing the uplink and downlink allocations and one featuring time division duplex (TDD). The first has absolutely no support in the record and the second adopts a technological approach contrary to the one proposed by the majority of U.S. carriers. A fair reading of the Public Notice suggests that the FCC feels the consensus approach constrains its ability to adjust the band plan to meet market-by-market variations. We believe, however, that this notice will consume resources better spent on dealing with other critical and as-yet-unanswered questions in this proceeding, such as how co-channel interference concerns could undermine the variability of any band plan and how the FCC plans to conduct an effective re-packing.

Each of us of course will respond to the notice, but we don’t anticipate any fundamental shift in positions we’ve already taken in the record. In the meantime, we are concerned about the apparent disconnect between the FCC and the various industries that will be critically affected by this auction. Nothing about this auction will be easy, and, if we are to succeed, we must all work together to find solutions best designed to respond to broadcast industry concerns while meeting wireless industry requirements. 


May 21, 2013 at 8:48 am 1 comment

“Communicating Superstorm Sandy” Video Highlights Broadcasters’ Role of First Informers

As you know, the Future of TV blog highlights the latest innovations in broadcast technology, broadcast issues in Washington and the many ways local broadcasters are central to their communities.

An example of broadcasters’ commitment to serving their local communities is the recently released video “Communicating Superstorm Sandy” that showcases the vital role broadcasters serve as “first informers” during emergencies. The video accurately captures the rapid response and lifeline support of local broadcasters when the devastating storm hit the East Coast last fall.

Included in the video are testimonies of local broadcasters as they worked around the clock to provide their neighbors with information to keep them safe. Dan Joerres, president/general manager of Baltimore’s WBAL-TV 11 says, “A local television station is out in the elements. Our reporters, our anchors, they’re there to tell the true story, to keep the public informed.” Susan Schiller, vice president and news director of Philadelphia’s KYW CBS 3, adds that broadcasters “have a public trust. It’s really a sacred public trust.”

Communities turn to their local broadcast stations every day for news, weather, traffic updates, original programming and more, but it is during times of crisis when viewers are reminded of just how important their local broadcasters are. Chris May, anchor, KYW CBS 3 noted, “We’re here every day. People know they can rely on us. They know we’re honest with them.”

Adds NBC Nightly News Anchor/Managing Editor Brian Williams, “Yes, local news is the first line of defense. I think it’s still the best conveyance method there is.” 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is also featured in the video and credits broadcast stations with disseminating live-saving information: “In the immediate aftermath of the storm my way to communicate to the folks in my state was through the broadcasters…”  

Watch the video and let us know what you think of local broadcasters’ efforts to keep viewers safe.

May 3, 2013 at 8:38 am 2 comments

The Future of TV was on Display at the 2013 NAB Show!

More than 92,000 media and entertainment representatives were in Las Vegas last week for the 2013 NAB Show. This annual conference is the premiere event for content and communications professionals from around the globe, especially those anxious to see what new technologies are on the horizon. Image

Among other things, attendees learned more about how they can watch their favorite local news and TV shows on the go without the need for WiFi or buffering at The Mobile TV Pavilion. Broadcasters are using their traditional airwaves to send content to  cellphones, tablets, in-car entertainment systems and more. The top mobile TV companies demonstrated the technology, including explaining how a dongle can turn your iPhone or iPad into a traveling TV. Broadcasters’ mobile TV service is already available in half the country, and just last week 25 more stations announced they will deliver mobile TV in some of America’s largest cities.  

4K TVs, the next generation HDTV, were also on display at the NAB Show. The screens on the exhibit floor were some of the largest available on the market – the image size is 3,840 by 2,160 compared to 1,920 by 1,080. 4K TVs boast the best picture quality, making them one of the most coveted items of TV loving Show attendees.

8K video (with 22.2 channel sound) was highlighted in the NHK exhibit at the NAB Labs Futures Park during the show in the “Super Hi-Vision” (SHV) presentation format. Continuous showings of SHV content were presented throughout NAB Show on a 300-inch screen in an 80-seat theater. NHK also showed a new SHV studio camera that captures images at a 120 Hz frame rate, along with a 60 Hz portable SHV camera. There was also an historic 8K event at the Show: For the first time in the world outside Japan, 8K video was transmitted and received over the air at the 2013 NAB Show, using two terrestrial TV channels.

Did you attend this year’s NAB Show? If so, you know that broadcasters in the U.S. and across the globe are constantly exploring innovations to better serve viewers. The future of TV is the content you want, when and where you want it.

April 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Hundreds of Broadcasters Flock to Washington to Protect TV Viewers

This week, hundreds of broadcasters from across the country are in the nation’s capital to meet with their members of Congress.

This annual call on Congress serves as an opportunity to educate legislators on the issues that impact local stations and their communities.

With nearly 500 broadcasters descending on Capitol Hill, broadcasters are committed to doing everything within their power to ensure that viewers’ access to the news, emergency updates and entertainment they rely on each day is not jeopardized.

Ironically, this week a major snow storm is also hitting the D.C. area, serving as another reminder of the indispensable role local TV and radio stations play in times of weather emergency.

In addition to broadcasters’ lifeline role in providing important information to Americans, broadcasters are discussing the upcoming spectrum incentive auction process with their legislators. Broadcasters are stressing the need for the FCC to adhere to the intent of Congress and ensure that free, local television remains an indispensable service for the American people.

For information on what you can do to keep broadcast TV free and accessible for everyone to enjoy, click here.

March 6, 2013 at 10:09 am 1 comment

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