April 3, 1997
PRESS STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER JAMES H. QUELLO
- Adoption of a New Table of Allotments.
Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact upon the
Existing Television Broadcast Service (MM Docket No. 87-268,
Sixth Report and Order)
This is an historic moment for all of us. With this
decision, we move forward with the implementation of digital
television, and the goal of preserving free, over-the-air
television has been realized for generations of viewers into the
21st century. Broadcasters will be able to broadcast their
signals digitally, and provide the American public with either a
crystal clear programming stream comprised of 6 MHz of spectrum,
or an extraordinary signal using less than 6 MHz, thereby
preserving the ability to offer supplemental or ancillary
services of a kind that we have yet to imagine.
I want to emphasize that the DTV product is not the
brainchild of government, but the result of the hard work of the
broadcasting, manufacturing and computer industries. These
industries have developed the best, most innovative plan for
digital broadcasting in the world. Engineers and executives
alike have devoted years of their lives to bring us to this
point, and for them, the work has only begun.
But this great advance has not been without its obstacles.
One such obstacle has been the concern over the UHF power level,
and the UHF/VHF power differential. The Commission's decision
however, finds compromise on this issue the best resort, thereby
establishing a minimum power level of 50 kilowatts and a maximum
power level of 1 megawatt. We believe that the power levels
assigned in the table will provide replication of service areas
in almost all instances. The Commission reserves the right to
further address this issue after two years, during such time we
anticipate that the technical aspects of these issues can be more
fully explored. We also permit, under certain circumstances,
increases in power beyond those contained in the table.
The Commission's decision also goes far towards maximizing
the use of spectrum. In channels 60-69, we believe that we can
recover 24 MHz almost immediately to reallocate for use in the
public safety arena. With respect to additional spectrum
available in channels 60-69, the Commission will consider in a
further proceeding what to do with this spectrum. We also state
our goal of recapturing 138 MHz of spectrum at the end of the
transition period. I believe it is important to note that our
decision here in no way prejudges what any recovered spectrum
will be allocated for, and does not foreclose the possibility of
its use for full power or low power broadcast services.
In this regard, the Commission's decision also attempts to
balance the need for a smooth transition to digital television
with the continued operation of low power television. I support
all the services that low power television provides in this
country. Translators provide access to over-the-air television
for many who are located in remote areas. Also, low power
television operators often provide the kinds of niche programming
in both urban and rural areas that address very specific needs in
their communities. In this decision, the Commission implements a
number of specific measures to mitigate the impact of DTV
implementation and keep low power operators in the broadcast
business. In addition, we will regularly review this issue to
see what more can be done.
As a broadcaster in my previous career and a 23 year veteran
of this Commission, I am proud of what the television industry
and the other industries involved have accomplished thus far, and
I am excited about the future. The possibilities are endless,
and the all important goal of preserving and enhancing free,
over-the-air television has been realized.