BazelonPitches 'Value Proposition' In SpectrumClearing

Coleman Bazelon, the economist whose study the Consumer
Electronics Association has used to back its call for moving broadcastersoff their spectrum,
will make that plea in person at an April 12 House Communications
Subcommittee hearing on spectrum issues.

According to a copy of his prepared testimony from the
hearing, Bazelon will pitch legislators on his theory that a spectrum
auction will be a marketplace mechanism for reassigning spectrum to a
higher-value use, he presumes wireless broadband, from a lower-value
use--he presumes broadcasting. He argues that can be done while leaving at
least four broadcasters in each top-30 market, and maybe more. That would still
be a potential loss of dozens of stations in some of the largest markets.

Previewing for the committee what he said was a detailed
analysis of what an auction of TV bands might entail, he says it would
clear the 120 MHZ the FCC has targeted from broadcasters, but that broadcasters
who don't participate or whose bids aren't accepted (the FCC won't need
broadcasters to give up spectrum in smaller markets where there is more of it
unused) "will not have any diminution of their service areas.

Among his other findings:

-"At a minimum, 4 full-powered broadcasters would
remain in every top 30 market serving the same households they do today, although probably more than four existing

-"Payments to broadcasters in an incentive auction
would probably not be more than about $15 billion, but would likely be much less."

-"Expected revenues from auctioning 120 MHz of spectrum
would likely exceed $35 billion."

-"An incentive auction would be expected to raise about
$20 billion for deficit reduction or for other priorities Congress may have such as funding a public safety

The Obama Administration has proposed spectrum incentive
auctions as part of its 2012 budget, with the proceeds going not only to
pay broadcasters, but to pay for an interoperable emergency communications
network and an app development project, plus pay down some of the deficit.
But Congress must first give the FCC authority to give broadcasters some of
that auction money.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.