Two LA TV stations will simultaneously share a single channel for broadcasts, as a pilot program to demonstrate not only that the technology works with no downside for viewers, but that it can be a valuable source of cash too. The scheme will see KLCS “hosting” KJLA’s content on its channel, the CTIA said today, with a mixture of SD and HD shows, and both primary and multicast broadcasting. That will free up KJLA’s own spectrum holding, so the idea goes, which could be sold off to cellular carriers to boost mobile broadband service.
The income – or at least part of it – from such a sale, the CTIA suggests, could be pumped back into the broadcasters, “to reinvest in services to benefit their communities.”
Initial testing will begin in Q1 2014, with the hosted service expected to be underway by the end of March. It’s part of the CTIA’s response to the FCC’s request that broadcasters “demonstrate the technical and legal arrangements necessary to implement a successful channel sharing operation” so that better use can be made of the available spectrum.
Along with the potential for income from selling off the freed-up spectrum, there’ll also be reduced operating and infrastructure costs as broadcasters share the hardware.
KLCS and KJLA need FCC approval before the trial can begin, but assuming they get the go-ahead they’ll be feeding back the results of the testing to the Commission. That will go on to shape similar channel-sharing around the US, as the FCC builds up to what it’s calling its “reverse auction”.