Happy New Year to the television industry!
In the spirit of ringing in the New Year, here are my top 10 wishes for the TV industry in 2015:
- A single flexible, extensible next-gen TV transmission standard.
Competition is a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to see how the TV industry avoids a downward spiral fueled by viewer confusion if competing next-gen standards come to market.
- Full market coverage remains intact post auction.
Congress already has directed the FCC to make all reasonable efforts to preserve the service area and population covered by local TV broadcasters post auction and repack, and NAB has filed suit to ensure that happens.
- Full compensation to all TV broadcasters forced onto new channels.
Congress has set up the $1.75 Broadcaster Relocation Fund to compensate stations for transmission-related expenses to move to new channels as a result of the repack. If that’s not enough money, Congress should increase the fund.
- Reality-based repacking rules.
If there aren’t enough tower crews to do all of the work that becomes necessary because of the repack, own it, deal with it and get real. An arbitrary agency timetable that has nothing to do with the law authorizing the repack or the reality of actually doing the work should not be allowed to disqualify broadcasters from receiving compensation or threaten them with loss of license.
- Copious flexible spectrum use waivers.
The law authorizing the auction and repack grants the FCC the authority to issue flexible use waivers, and the agency should do so both to reduce the burden on the Relocation Fund and to drive TV innovation.
- Auction and repack sync-up with next-gen TV standard adoption and deployment.
Pushing an accelerated auction and repack timetable doesn’t make sense for the consumer, broadcasters, the government and even wireless companies at a time when new more spectrally efficient TV transmission and digital encoding technology is within grasp.
- A solid, mobile TV technology and business strategy.
If broadcast television is all about one-to-many reach, broadcasters have to use their expertise and technical infrastructure to reach the devices in the hands, pockets and purses of their viewers.
- A low- or no-cost viewer upgrade path to next-generation television.
Millions upon millions of U.S. households have upgraded to HDTV. If broadcasters want to recruit the support of consumers and policymakers for a next-generation TV standard that is not backwards compatible, they better find a way — like a low-cost HDMI receiver/converter dongle (think Amazon Fire TV Stick)-to deploy that standard that doesn’t prematurely obsolete those HDTVs.
- New wireless mic technology.
Whether it’s new ways to use VHF or new higher frequencies to relieve wireless mic congestion, TV broadcasters who cover news in the field and those producing entertainment and sports coverage need workable solutions to a problem that will only get worse when UHF channels are harder to come by.
- A richer view of what TV technology can do.
It’s becoming clearer that the technology to fuel the future of TV may be outpacing the ability of those with entrenched interests to deal with. A new vision of what TV can and should be may lead to a next-gen TV experience that once again makes free over-the-air television relevant, even to young people who won’t be separated from their smartphones and tablets.
Here’s hoping 2015 brings broadcasters many new opportunities, the wisdom to recognize them and the courage needed to act.
What are your top wishes for the industry when it comes to the technology needed to produce and distribute television? Let me know, and I will post your ideas.