[opendtv] FCC on SFNs, coverage areas allowed, and WSD impact

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2008 16:07:31 -0500


This Report and Order addresses both true SFNs and on-channel repeaters.

Very interesting to note what the FCC has to say about how this order
relates to white space devices. In particular, it looks like the FCC was
being approached by those who wanted to grab even occupied channels in a
market area, but channels in which some of the market area was
inadequately covered by the big stick. And the FCC is telling these
parties no, you can't do that, and the broadcasters is instead allowed
to improve his coverage area with multiple transmitters.

Also interesting to me is that the FCC talks about use of DTV
translators or LPTV stations as another technique available to
broadcasters to improve the coverage within their market area. And that
WSDs cannot get in the way of those translators or LPTV stations either.

On the other hand, the FCC is not going to allow dramatic improvement in
coverage outside the market area, with these techniques. Improved
coverage is to be within the DMA. And again the old bugaboo "localism"
is mentioned as the reason:

"We agree with MSTV and others that DTS must not be used to undermine
localism and that a DTS service area should not shift a station's
primary focus from its community of license."

Booo. This sounds to me similar to what the Hollywood studios did when
they originally opposed the 16:9 TV screen aspect ratio standard for
ATSC. Cut off nose to spite face.

But, this is also mentioned:

"MSTV would, however, allow expanded service only into 'traditionally
underserved rural areas in which populations have historically been
insufficient to sustain viable, full-service over-the-air station.'"

IMO, if you're talking SFNs or OCRs rather than translators, there
should be no reason to obsess about large increases in coverage area per
se. Even the best ATSC receivers won't work well with widely spaced
antennas on the same frequency. You would need something more like
DVB-T2 for that.

Anyway, the FCC uses a "table of distances" approach, where the are more
optimally covered by the SFN is basically no different from the area as
it would be ideally covered by a big stick. And they have an additional
criterion, which to allow any full power station the same coverage as
the largest station in the market. This is especially helpful in weird
situations like mountainous terrain.

AND YET, even after talking at length about the DMA and localism:

"We adopt a waiver policy to enable stations to address the type of loss
experienced by WECT, Wilmington, NC (channel 6), where many analog
viewers of that station lost service when the station transitioned to
digital-only operations. Notwithstanding our Table of Distances, on a
case-by-case basis, we will permit a station to use DTS if doing so will
enable it to continue to serve its existing analog viewers within its
analog Grade B contour who would otherwise lose service as a result of
its transition."

Interesting read. Glad it came after the WSD ruling.

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  • » [opendtv] FCC on SFNs, coverage areas allowed, and WSD impact - Manfredi, Albert E