In a preparatory step towards a new spectrum auction, the FCC held a workshop for broadcasters this week on channel sharing. Under the incentive auction legislation approved by Congress earlier this year, full-power and Class A television broadcasters could consider voluntarily putting their current spectrum up for sale while moving to share a channel with another broadcaster. The goals of this workshop were to explore “the financial and strategic opportunities” of channel sharing, as well as “practical business and operational challenges and potential solutions.”
According to its National Broadband Plan, the FCC would like to redirect up to 120 MHz of television broadcast airwaves to broadband use. In his presentation at this workshop, FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake noted that channel sharing could help free up such spectrum while allowing broadcasters to share auction proceeds and stay on the air. He also noted that the FCC has prepared the way for participating broadcasters to retain separate FCC licenses, keep Must-Carry rights, and channel-share across commercial/NCE lines.
It is unclear how interested broadcasters will be in channel sharing and auctioning spectrum. In addition, questions have been raised about how much of a “spectrum crunch” really exists, and LPTV is left in a precarious spot in the event of an auction. NRB continues to urge a process that fairly honors the services and investments of all Christian television broadcasters in their local communities.
• Watch the FCC Channel Sharing Workshop and learn more about it.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations