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Study of Two L.A. TV Stations Concludes Channel Sharing ‘Can Be Done’

Two independent Los Angeles TV stations, KLCS-TV and KJLA-TV, have concluded that it is “technically feasible” for them to share the same channel, in a study that could bolster the FCC’s effort to entice broadcasters to participate in an auction of their spectrum for wireless use.

The study from CITA-The Wireless Assn. showed that “channel sharing on both a physical and virtual level can be done.”

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler pointed to the test results as a “real world evidence” that sharing spectrum is a “significant opportunity for broadcasters.” The FCC’s plans for a voluntary incentive auction hinge on getting enough stations to participate, but stations that do give up spectrum will share in the proceeds.

“In business, it is very rare to be able to have your cake and eat it too,” Wheeler said in a statement. “It is my hope that broadcasters closely study the channel sharing pilot project report as they consider the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered by the upcoming incentive auction.”

Pilot testing showed that it was “technically feasible for two 720p high definition streams to be combined into a single Advanced Television System Committee channel.” The testing also showed that all of the TVs and tuners tested were able to “receive and correctly parse all the required information.”

Nevertheless, the study did not examine legal or practical issues involved in channel sharing. The National Assn. of Broadcasters, which has expressed skepticism over the plans for the auction, said that they agree “with the report’s observation that every individual broadcaster will need to determine for itself whether channel sharing is a worthwhile pursuit.”

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