Noncoms Agree FCC Should Scrap Changes to Coverage Model

Tell FCC Changes to OET Bulletin 69 Would Threaten Their Mission
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Noncommercial broadcasters are on the same page with the National Association of Broadcasters when it comes to the FCC's proposed changes (the so-called Bulletin 69) to how the FCC calculates coverage areas and interference protections for the post incentive auction repacking. They argue that the changes would create "widespread uncertainty for stations and would make it difficult for public television stations to serve their mission of providing all Americans with important free, noncommercial television services."

Like commercial broadcasters, they argue that the commission is bound by statute to use the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) methodology.

Congress instructed the FCC to use that methodology in its repacking of TV stations after the incentive auctions, and commercial and noncommercial broadcasters alike interpret that to mean the method in existence when the law was adopted last year, not the FCC's proposed update in early February, when it released an updated version of the Longley-Rice model and TVStudy software it will use to calculate TV station coverage areas and interference as it repacks TV stations into smaller spectrum quarters after the FCC's incentive auctions.

While the FCC is bound by statute to make all reasonable efforts to protect TV stations' coverage areas and interference protections post-auction, the noncoms say that the changes "fail to 'preserve' stations' service areas and, instead, significantly reduce the coverage area and population served for many stations."

Given that threat, "we strongly urge OET to refrain from adopting these proposals in connection with the upcoming spectrum auction and repacking, PBS, CPB and the Association of Public Television Stations said in joint comments to the FCC on the proposed changes.