2 Los Angeles TV Stations Conduct Channel-Sharing Pilot (3/28/14)
Friday, March 28, 2014 | Comments

Two Los Angeles television stations and CTIA released a report based on the stations’ channel-sharing pilot. The results have real-world implications for the hybrid business model that would be necessary for a successful channel-sharing agreement to be reached, the report said.

“Los Angeles stations KLCS and KJLA have provided real world evidence that channel sharing presents a significant opportunity for broadcasters to continue their existing business on shared spectrum and take home a check for spectrum they voluntarily relinquish in the incentive auction,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “By demonstrating the feasibility of combining multiple HD streams onto a single channel or combining one or two HD streams with several SD programs, the pilot project has made a compelling case for channel sharing. In business, it is very rare to be able to have your cake and eat it too. It is my hope that broadcasters closely study the channel sharing pilot project report as they consider the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered by the upcoming incentive auction.”

The incentive auction is directed to fund the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and other public-safety priorities under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

Over the past several months, the Los Angeles television stations, KLCS and KJLA, tested the feasibility of having two non-affiliated broadcast television stations sharing a single 6-megahertz radio frequency channel. The testing explored the technical details of channel sharing, and didn’t examine all the legal and practical issues associated with such sharing, the report said.

Neither station is advocating for or against channel sharing, but seeking to inform the broadcast community, the FCC and the public of their findings in this real-world trial, the report said. Neither is committed to participate in the incentive auction, but realized that without testing the concept and gathering empirical data it would be impossible to evaluate the potential consequences of such an arrangement.

The report reveals the issues that were successfully overcome on the technical side, as well as the limitations. It presents some of the questions that stations need to answer in conjunction with their potential partner(s) if they choose to participate in the auction through channel sharing. Due to time and equipment limitations, it wasn’t possible to review every scenario sharing could entail, the report said. “Each station will need to investigate for itself the impact of channel sharing on its business model and technical infrastructure,” the report said.

In other incentive auction news, the FCC adopted a protective order that outlines procedures to provide strictly limited access to certain competitively sensitive information that may be filed in proceedings. The commission said the information will be necessary to develop a more complete record on which to base its decisions and that the public has a right to participate in the proceedings, but it will limit public access to outside counsel of record and outside consultants and their employees. The full order is available here.

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