The FCC has released a Public Notice, as promised by FCC Chairman Wheeler at last week’s NAB convention, asking for public comment on the proposal filed by the National Association of Broadcasters, the Consumer Technology Association and others requesting that the Commission approve ATSC 3.0, the next transmission system for over-the-air television broadcasting. We wrote last week about that proposal, here, and the hopes of some broadcasters that the FCC would work quickly to approve this standard, so that it could be rolled out as TV stations make other changes as part of the post-incentive auction repacking of the TV band (see our article here on repacking issues). Comments on the proposal are due on May 26 and replies on June 27.
Note that these are simply preliminary comments on the proposal filed the week before last. This is not a notice of proposed rulemaking – a notice that would be necessary before the FCC actually adopts the new standards. Instead, the FCC will take these preliminary comments, digest them and then formulate its own proposal for a set of rules to govern the deployment of ATSC 3.0 and the other issues addressed in the petition (including the use of a “host station” to continue to broadcast in the current DTV standard the main program stream of any station that converts to ATSC 3.0, and the issues with the treatment of converted stations for satellite and cable carriage purposes). Other issues not addressed in the initial proposal, such as the treatment of LPTV stations and whether stations can transition if they don’t find a “host station” to continue to transmit their signals in the current format, are likely to be raised in these preliminary comments, and addressed in any NPRM. But, at least the preliminary steps have been taken to get the regulatory ball rolling. Most TV broadcasters are no doubt hoping that subsequent actions can be taken quickly as well.