Post-auction coverage still concerns public TV broadcasters

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Public broadcasters continue to press the FCC to ensure that the upcoming repacking of spectrum does not create “white areas” where over-the-air viewers would lose access to public television.

The FCC is planning a voluntary broadcast spectrum auction, set for mid-2016, to sell bandwidth to cellular companies for use by mobile devices. Television station executives must decide whether to opt out of the auction, sell off all or part of their spectrum, or move their signals to lesser-quality VHF channels.

Public television representatives, led by Lonna Thompson of the Association of Public Television Stations, met with FCC officials May 26. Noncom executives told FCC staffers that repacking the spectrum following the auction could create “unprecedented” holes in public TV signal coverage, according to a filing by APTS.

The pubcasters noted that over-the-air television is used by almost 20 percent of the population, and possibly up to 30 percent of underserved minority populations, in several major markets.

The noncom organizations previously filed a petition for reconsideration in September 2014 asking for special consideration to avoid white areas.

Also representing public TV were Cindy Campbell, operations v.p., CPB; Eric Wolf, v.p., technology strategy and planning, PBS; and Thomas Rosen, senior counsel, PBS.

They met with Chanelle Hardy, FCC chief of staff and media legal adviser; Louis Peraertz, adviser to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn; and Robin Colwell, chief of staff and adviser to Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.

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