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My Fellow Broadcasters

 Our editorial page this week presumed to tell FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski what to say to his NAB audience in Last Vegas next week. But in case he doesn’t, here is the gist of it:

My fellow broadcasters [he is a former USA Broadcasting exec] we can all agree on some key points: broadband is a critical infrastructure challenge and opportunity; it will require rethinking spectrum policy, and everything should be on the table.

But in this new equation, the value of broadcasting is not simply in dollars and cents, but in its over-the-air audience of millions of citizens, many of them the poor, rural, elderly and minority populations whose interests can be, and must be, served by any national plan for our media future.

After all, those are the very viewers we spent over a billion dollars to equip with converter boxes, and delayed the DTV transition to insure they could receive over-the-air TV, a lifeline for emergency information and local news and information.

Broadcast spectrum is beachfront property, but that does not mean broadcasters don’t have the capacity and potential to develop it with our help to meet the new broadband demands of the digital age, while at the same time serving those key populations who rely on over-the-air TV.

There are capable and experienced broadcasters in this audience who can help free up existing spectrum and capitalize on the ability of TV stations to partner with wireless companies to help share the load of broadband traffic.

Broadcasters are not a blot on the white board of a media remake, but a key partner in that effort, which should combine the best of broadcast and broadband technologies to serve, not just the iWant generation, but all Americans.