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Challenges in Implementing Television Repacking
Guest Speaker: Joseph M. Davis
January 14, 2015
The first SBE Chapter 37 meeting in 2015 featured guest speaker Joseph M. Davis. Joe discussed the FCC's controversial plan to auction television broadcast spectrum as it impacts stations that are repacked to new channels.
The FCC intends to conduct an “incentive auction” in 2016, where a bidding process will result in participating TV broadcasters voluntarily relinquishing their licenses, changing from UHF to VHF, or sharing a channel with another station. The goal is to move TV broadcasters off of as many UHF channels as possible, where the vacated spectrum will then be auctioned for broadband/wireless use. UHF stations now are on channels 14-51, and the auction will reduce that range. The final range won’t be known until the auction occurs, but is generally anticipated to be channels 14 through the mid 30’s.
Stations who do not participate in the auction, or whose bids are not accepted, will be subject to the “re-packing” process where they may be involuntarily assigned to a different channel within the same band.
Joe Davis' presentation focused on the post-auction transition and described the TV channel re-packing process. Once the repacked channel assignments are released, TV stations will have to very quickly develop and execute plans to implement the channel change. Joe discussed the FCC’s procedures, timelines, coverage replication and protection methods, steps stations must take to plan their change, manufacturer and tower crew challenges, potential bottlenecks, interim operations, and FCC reimbursement of station expenses. He will also discussed the impact on LPTV & translator stations, which are not protected through this process and will not be reimbursed for any channel changes. While this program focused on TV stations, it was also interesting to FM broadcasters as in some cases this process may involve relocation of FM antennas co-located with TV or involve other FM station expenses.
Joseph M. Davis is a television and radio consulting engineer with over 30 years’ experience and is president of the consulting firm Chesapeake RF Consultants LLC. Joe received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1982 from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and since 1980 has worked directly for and then served as a consultant to various television and radio stations in engineering capacities, including transmitter and tower site relocation, facility upgrade, signal propagation, interference evaluation, FCC technical regulatory matters, and in the evaluation of human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields. He has been involved in the digital television transition since 1996, providing consulting services to television stations in regard to the FCC’s technical requirements concerning evaluation of digital allotment tables, DTV station authorization, expansion, use of alternate channels, and preparation of technical exhibits for submission to the FCC. Joe is a licensed Professional Engineer, a full member and past president of the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers, and is Certified as a Professional Broadcast Engineer by the SBE.
Sandwiches and soda, kindly provided by our friends at Vertical Technology Services, were served at 6:30 PM. We appreciate their ongoing support. Thanks also to our host, Radio One, for their hospitality and use of their meeting room.
Kent Kramer discussed a bit of Chapter business about 6:45. Kent announced our February meeting guest speaker and meeting location: Kenny Miller of SuiteLife Systems will discuss Monitoring and Management Systems. The meeting will be held at WETA.
It was also announced that the search for a new Frequency Coordinator is showing progress. Mike Rhodes of Cavell, Mertz & Associates, Inc. has expressed interest in this volunteer position. Following the meeting, Jonathan Soloman also agreed to lend a hand. Discussions regarding Frequency Coordination are continuing.