No local takers, so far, on FCC proposal for 'reverse auction'
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 2:11 a.m.
In the two years since the Federal Communications Commission began touting the idea, broadcasters still wonder if they'll lose 20 television channels to help satiate a growing appetite for broadband downloads.
“The vast majority of TV stations will intend to stay in the business,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president for communications at the National Association of Broadcasters.
In 2011, the FCC floated the idea of taking back 120 megahertz, eliminating channels 31-51, in order to add to the space available for Internet use.
When TV broadcasting went from analog to digital transmission, stations shifted to “actual” channels, while identifying themselves by “virtual” channels viewers knew.
In Pittsburgh that could eliminate WTAE-4, WPXI-11, WINP-16, WPMY-22, WPCB-40 and WPGH-53, which occupy, respectively, actual channels 51, 48, 38, 42, 50 and 43.
Under the Spectrum Act of 2012, the FCC established a $1.5 billion fund to “reimburse costs reasonably incurred by broadcasters who are relocated to new channels.”
That money would be allocated via a “reverse auction,” now likely to happen sometime next year, during which stations can turn in their licenses.
“We expect that some broadcasters will kick the tires,” Wharton said.
Broadcast industry analyst Scott Fybush, writing for current.org, said the 2012 act still mandates removal of 20 channels, but with new technical standards to allow broadcasters unwilling to give up their spectrum to retain substantially all of their coverage.
“There is a group that is interested in having it go forward,” FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield said. “They are more optimistic that this can be more to their benefit.”
Wharton calls it a “coalition of the willing” led by former Fox and Disney executive Preston Padden.
“He claims he has something like 70 to 100 TV stations that are planning to take part in the auction,” Wharton said. “None of them happen to be affiliates of the four major networks.”
Wharton said he has not heard of any Pittsburgh broadcasters interested in turning in their licenses, but he also doesn't want to impede the FCC's plans.
“We want to make this auction successful,” the NAB spokesman said. “We don't want to be fighting this in two years after a failed auction. We want to provide certainty to the broadcast industry and to Wall Street.”
Spectrum is being found for use by fire, police and other first responders.
The FCC last week announced an auction in January in what is called the 1900-megahertz band, well above the TV frequencies.
Computer industry observer Shelly Palmer said it could draw interest from holders of adjacent frequencies such as Sprint and Dish Network.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Corpus Christi parishioners deliver giving tree gifts
- Service project culminates in local children’s party
- Families receive food, gifts from Salvation Army
- Versailles to maintain tax rate
- County redevelopment authority OKs transactions that affect McKeesport, Homestead and Braddock locations
- West Mifflin Area organizations help fuel toy drive
- PUC rejects Elizabeth Bridge appeal
- Clairton students debut Holiday Reading Program
- ‘Fans Rule’ as Globetrotters return
- School scores run the gamut
- Revitalized Duquesne watchdog group finds new home, leadership