Broadcasters Warn Reps. of Spectrum Reclamation Border Issues

Washington State broadcasters have asked Congress to ensure there are agreements in place with Canada on spectrum issues before the FCC can relicense reclaimed broadcast spectrum for wireless or repack stations that don't give up their spectrum.

That is according to a copy of a letter from the Washington State Association of Broadcasters to Sen. Patty Murray.

The Washington State broadcasters said that they wanted a memo of understanding, treaty or agreement with Canada to be finalized before the FCC proceeds with its plans. That is on their assumption that the Congress this fall will consider a bill giving the FCC the authority to compensate broadcasters and hold the incentive auctions.

They argue in the letter that the repacking of stations to make room for contiguous blocks of spectrum for auction -- which means relocating broadcasters, including requiring some to share channels -- could have "severe and irreversible" consequences if the border issues are not resolved.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, other state broadcaster associations with border or other spectrum auction issues sent letters of concern to relevant legislators in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

NAB President Gordon Smith told B&C in an interview last week that the FCC has yet to answer the association's questions about the status of the border issues with Canada and Mexico.

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.