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CTIA, NAB Join to Pan Spectrum Fees

Read their lips: No new spectrum taxes.

CTIA: The Wireless Association and the National Association of Broadcasters are on the same page, literally on a spectrum auction issue. Yes, and hell has not yet frozen over. While the two associations are at loggerheads over government reclamation of broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband, they are in agreement that any spectrum auction legislation should not contain new spectrum fees.

NAB and CTIA were co-signatories on a letter to the deficit-reduction supercommittee Wednesday making that point. The president's jobs bill contained new FCC authority to impose billions in spectrum fees on wireless companies and radio broadcasters over the next decade -- it exempted TV broadcasters. Although that bill has been blocked in the Senate, the president is pushing for passage of individual elements, and the supercommittee is considering the auctions as one of the ways to reach their deficit-reduction target because of the billions the auctions are estimated to raise for the treasury above and beyond compensating broadcasters and paying for an interoperable broadband emergency communications network.

As part of the letter, CTIA has put its name -- actually that of CTIA President Steve Largent right alongside of that of NAB President Gordon Smith -- to this statement about broadcasters: "Each of our industry sectors is extremely efficient in its use of spectrum." NAB will want to keep that handy the next time a wireless operator or consumer electronics company talks about wanting to make more efficient use of broadcast spectrum.

In their letter, NAB and CTIA said that the new fees "ignore the considerable annual regulatory fees already borne by our respective industries and the tens of billions of dollars in private capital expended annually by wireless, satellite and commercial, non-commercial and public radio operators alike to build networks and invest in the infrastructure necessary to serve the American public."

Also signing on to the letter were National Religious Broadcasters, the Satellite Industry Association, and the Wireless Infrastructure Foundation.