TV tower firm warns FCC 'quiet period' will harm post-auction transition

Image: M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons

TV tower firm Electronics Research (ERI) warned the FCC that the “quiet period” for broadcasters during the ongoing broadcast incentive auctions could have a “detrimental effect” on pre-planning for the channel reassignment transition.

In a meeting with FCC officials on the Incentive Auction Task Force (IATF), ERI said that it was ramping up production facilities and hiring while also working on educating broadcasters about the post-auction transition, but that many broadcasters have avoided meetings held by groups like the Society of Broadcast Engineers for fear of violating the quiet period rules.

“Industry meetings such as the SBE’s are excellent venues for broadcasters to work together, learn about industry and FCC policy changes, and connect with experts to help them move forward to the future. It may help the broadcast industry, if the Commission were to clarify or possibly relax some of the ‘Quiet Period’ regulations to allow constructive communications,” wrote Joe Meleski, VP of U.S. Sales for ERI, in an ex parte filing.

According to ERI, broadcasters’ current assessments regarding main and auxiliary RF operations, structural analysis and possible interruption of collocated radio broadcasting, have brought up questions of reimbursement timing, “since most manufacturers and services companies will require down payments to begin processing orders and scheduling service resources.”

“[ERI] asked the IATF to provide more transparency with regard to the expected processing times for cost reimbursement submissions and the availability of funds, particularly at the beginning of the transition,” Meleski wrote.

RELATED: GatesAir wants U.S. manufacturers to get preferential treatment during 600 MHz auction repack

While the FCC is currently preparing to help manage the phased transition for channel reassignments following the auction—for which the FCC will allocate $1.75 billion in funding and a controversial 39-month timeframe mandate—many manufacturers have weighed in.

The National Association of Broadcasters, along with broadcasting groups like Sinclair, have warned that the 39-month window is too rigid and that unforeseen conditions and issues will make it unlikely for that timeframe to be met. Meanwhile, wireless industry advocates like CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association have urged the FCC to keep the timeframe in place to ensure that auction bidders get quick access to wireless spectrum bought at auction.

Meanwhile, GatesAir, another TV tower and RF antenna firm, asked the FCC to give U.S. manufacturers preferential treatment in supplying the equipment needed during the transition.

In an FCC filing (PDF), GatesAir asked that the FCC adopt specific guidelines giving preference to U.S. manufacturers and service providers, citing the 1933 Buy American Act.

“When the repack of U.S. broadcasters takes place, many foreign competitors will show up in the U.S., most without any real installation base or knowledge of the customer. They will lower their prices and dump their inferior products in order to get a short-term piece of the U.S. market,” GatesAir wrote.