This week, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that existing television station ownership rules won’t apply to efforts to build out what FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has described as “broadcast internet.”
The decision came in the form of a declatory ruling, with the FCC stating that stations can lease spectrum to provide broadcast internet service without worrying about the long-standing TV ownership restrictions. As an example, the FCC said a broadcaster could lease spectrum to other broadcasters, including those in the same geographic market, or to third parties for broadcast internet use without running afoul of existing rules.
“We want the marketplace — not outdated rules — to determine whether new services and technologies will succeed,” the FCC said in its declatory ruling. “Broadcasters, as well as a range of other entities, now have the potential to use broadcast spectrum to enter the converged market for connectivity in ways not possible only a few short years ago.”
The broadcast internet concept remains in its early stages, but the FCC outlined that several groups are interested in exploring the potential of ATSC 3.0, aka Next Gen TV, to provide data beyond normal over-the-air video.
“Specifically, these groups hope to utilize television spectrum to provide non-traditional broadcast video services such as video-on-demand or subscription video services and new, innovative non-broadcast services in such areas as the automotive industry, agriculture, distance learning, telehealth, public safety, utility automation, and the Internet of
Things,” the FCC said.
In our recent interview with Sinclair’s ONE Media, President Mark Aitken and Executive Vice President Jerald Fritz described broadcast internet as a potential complement to existing internet-delivery services.
“Broadcasting has the advantage of an enormously efficient one-to-many architecture, but is also only one-way. It’s a highly efficient distribution, but relies on a return path from the internet to provide services. That’s why we see Next Gen as a complementary service, not a substitute,” they said.
We’ll continue to monitor ATSC 3.0’s development and expansion, including broadcast internet, and keep you up-to-date.
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