FCC Allows Stealth HD Power Boosts

Although the Federal Communications Commission has deferred (for now) any formal action on its inquiry into whether or not to allow broadcast radio stations to increase the power of their digital (“HD”) sidebands by a factor of ten, the agency’s employing the tried and true method of “creating facts on the ground” by allowing individual stations (or station clusters) to individually apply for special temporary authority to hike their HD power levels.
This is taking place even though radio’s engineering community is deeply divided on the issue of an HD sideband power increase. Comments filed by the Prometheus Radio Project and Media Access Project (disclaimer: on which I informally consulted) succinctly summarize the dispute. The main question is: is it realistically possible use HD Radio as a tool to improve the existing medium, or will HD intentionally degrade it so that the spectrum’s repurposement becomes inevitable – or, at the very least, make its ownership more consolidated?
While not taking any formal stand on the issue, the FCC’s standing aside (as usual) and letting industry initiative take its course. This is not something endemic to the Commissioner-level: this is a problem of FCC staff not being independent-minded enough of the industry interests they purport to regulate not paying f*cking attention. By the time Obama gets settled in, this particular cat may already be out of the bag.
This is the primary issue I’ll be focusing on over the next year, as I consolidate my dissertation research (which just so happens to be on this very topic). There’s much more to come.