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FCC Begins Plan To Take Back Spectrum

The FCC has teed up a rule-making session Nov. 30 that proposes first steps toward freeing up broadcast spectrum through repacking of the band and channel sharing, according to agency and industry sources. The rules stop short of actually proposing a comprehensive repacking scheme, whereby the FCC would squeeze out as much as 36 MHz out of the broadcast band by shifting channel assignments and trimming power and coverage of stations. However, the proceeding looks for ways of improving the much maligned VHF band (chs. 2-13) for broadcasting, suggesting that the FCC intends to drive more stations there. UHF channels, chs. 14 to 51, are generally considered better for broadcasting and broadband.

In particular, the FCC rulemaking will explore VHF indoor antenna performance standards and seek suggestions for reducing noise in the VHF band. The FCC expects to recover the most broadcast spectrum by encouraging channel sharing, in which stations would voluntarily double up (or even triple up) on a single 6 MHz TV channel.



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