APTS, PBS Take On NCTA, ATVA In NextGen TV Use Fight

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) and PBS have filed reply comments with the FCC in response to a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on authorizing permissive use of the Next Generation broadcast television standard.


“For the sake of the viewing public,” APTS and PBS say, the groups “urge the FCC to not adopt any of the proposals set forth by NCTA or ATVA in this proceeding.”

The reply comments, filed Monday with the Commission, specifically take aim at the NCTA – The Internet & Television Association.

“NCTA claims that broadcasters working together to efficiently transition to ATSC 3.0 ‘may impact cable operators … by amplifying cable capacity and carriage concerns.’ This is simply not true,” APTS and PBS argue. “The collaboration of broadcasters to preserve over-the-air multicasting service to their local communities does not impact cable operators. The routine grant of waivers by the FCC over the past several years to accomplish what the Second FNPRM proposes to codify has not strained cable capacity in any way. This rulemaking is simply about codifying the existing sensible FCC practice in order to more efficiently use FCC resources going forward.”

To be more blunt, the groups told the Commission that the cable industry proposals are unrelated to the purpose of the rulemaking and outside the scope of
this proceeding  — using underlines to emphasize its point.

“The rules proposed in the Second FNPRM on multicast licensing flexibility simply codify what is already being routinely done under waivers,” the groups say. “Nothing in the record suggests that multicast licensing flexibility, as proposed by NAB, and supported by PTV, could possibly harm the public interest. In fact, just the opposite is true. Using broadcast airwaves more efficiently (including offering more program streams on 1.0 and 3.0 television broadcast channels for viewers) advances the public interest and should be encouraged. There is no ‘land grab’ here for broadcast spectrum aggregation (except it would seem in the minds of the cable industry). This Second FNPRM proceeding is simply about tweaking the initial rules for primary channels to allow for flexible multicast licensing – something that the NextGen TV rollout must have to advance ATSC 3.0 deployments (and for public television to have a place at the NextGen TV table).

The filing was signed by APTS EVP/COO and General Counsel Lonna Thompson and PBS Head of Standards & Practices and Associate GC Talia Rosen.