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CEA Seeks Online Signatories for Broadcast Spectrum Push

The Consumer Electronics Association wants to collect
online signatures on a Declaration of Innovation that borrows language from the
Declaration of Independence (and Constitution) to push for reclaiming spectrum
from broadcasters.

According to text of a speech CEA President Gary Shapiro
plans to deliver at CE Week in New York Thursday, CEA is trying to get
signatures on the following document, tying it to the upcoming July 4 holiday.
While its title suggests the Declaration of Independence, it begins instead
with the preamble to the Constitution. It also puts in a plug for innovation,
immigration, trade and other themes of Shapiro's recently published book.

"We, the people of the United States of America,
hold these truths to be self-evident - that great innovators drive America's
unsurpassed economic success; that innovation creates jobs, markets and
industries where none existed before; and that innovation moves us forward as a
nation, pushing us to succeed and strive for a better tomorrow.

Staying true to our legacy and our obligation to the
life, liberty and happiness of future Americans, we hereby declare that
innovation is and should be a key national priority and strategy for this

We urge policies that promote innovation:

- We believe American innovators should be able to buy
and sell their products around the world.

- We believe that more spectrum must be available for
wireless broadband.

- We believe in welcoming the best and brightest minds
to the United States.

- We believe in cutting the federal deficit."

Shapiro, who has called broadcasters "squatters" who have
tried to "terrify" Congress with their power to demonize them over
the airwaves, was somewhat less confrontational in his speech, even saying that
"CEA is fine with over-the-air TV if that's what the market
supports." But he also offered up his arguments for why he thought the
future was broadband. "[W]e have to ask, with several broadcasters in each
market, is that the best use of spectrum?" Shapiro already had an answer
ready. "Ubiquitous Internet access and broadband competition is a more
laudable goal."

He suggests that broadcasters can deliver their signals
over cable or the 'net to the dwindling number over-the-air viewers, while
collecting a "financial windfall" through incentive auctions for a
resource "they didn't even pay for."

"If an overwhelming number of broadcasters take part
in the auctions, it doesn't mean their programming will disappear, " says
Shapiro, "as pay-TV and emerging platforms could deliver the broadcast
content to the 9 million homes still relying on over-the-air. The National
Association of Broadcasters and CEA have invested in a company, Syncbak, that
uses a sliver of spectrum to authorize delivery of broadcast content over the
Internet. This is a way to deliver TV that can free up hundreds of MHz of
spectrum and an opportunity for broadcasters to innovate."

Shapiro also used the FCC's recently released future of
media report to argue for broadband over broadcasting. "A few weeks ago,
the FCC issued a comprehensive report on the state of our media," he says.
While finding a decline in local news, the report also highlighted how the
Internet has "enabled an unprecedented free exchange of ideas and information."
While finding a decline in local reporting, the FCC recommended pushing for
universal broadband to help online businesses thrive.

For its part, the National Association of Broadcasters
has argued that broadcasting of and for the people shall not perish from the
airwaves if they have anything to do with it.