NAB is urging the FCC to keep a light touch when it comes to promulgating additional rules for IBOC, particularly for subscription services delivered via multicast channels.
In reply comments to the commission, NAB said, “Most commenters rejected limitations on the amount of subscription services that may be offered, finding such regulation unnecessary to the preservation of free, over-the-air digital radio.”
Beyond the baseline requirement that broadcasters offer one free digital programming service comparable to or better in audio quality than their current service, stations “should be free to allocate remaining bandwidth in response to consumer demand and changing marketplace conditions,” the trade group stated.
NAB agrees with Cox Radio that the penetration level for IBOC receivers with conditional access capability will not support a subscription service for some time and so it would be “unreasonable” for the agency to establish spectrum caps now.
In addition, a spectrum fee “would create a disincentive that would almost certainly doom the technology before a market can develop,” said NAB.
The Benton Foundation urged new public interest requirements for digital radio, but this would “throw the commission back to an outdated era of heavy-handed and unnecessary regulation,” NAB argued.