Spending Bill Passage Praised

With the President's possible, last-minute, veto not materializing and a government shutdown averted, industry players were lining up to praise passage of the RAY BAUM's Act and other provisions in the omnibus spending bill that was signed into law Friday (March 23).

Those provisions notably included $1 billion in new funds, if needed, for the post-incentive auction TV station repack and various FCC process reforms (RAY BAUM's Act), as well as a fix to FCC upfront payments that paves the way for future spectrum auctions.

The bill also includes full funding for noncommercial media.

"By fixing the upfront payments issue, this law will enable the FCC to commence a 5G spectrum auction later this year," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "It also includes the MOBILE NOW Act, which will lead to the identification of at least 255 MHz of licensed and unlicensed spectrum that will help the United States continue to lead in wireless innovation and deployment.

“This law also addresses a number of other important Commission concerns. For example, it includes additional funding for the repacking of broadcasters required to relocate their television stations following the incentive auction. And it streamlines redundant and, in some cases, outdated reporting requirements that divert the FCC’s time and resources from more critical work.

“It is also noteworthy that this constitutes the first reauthorization of the FCC in decades. Reauthorization helps our agency steer a path forward in our work on behalf of the American people, and I want to thank all of the elected officials whose leadership made this day possible.”

“We applaud Congressional leadership for including several significant telecommunications components in the 2018 omnibus budget legislation, including RAY BAUM’s Act which reauthorizes the FCC for the first time in 28 years and directs the Commission to identify new unlicensed spectrum that can help meet growing consumer demand for Wi-Fi and other emerging services," said NCTA in comments on the bill's passage Thursday.

“We also support Congress’ decision to appropriate $600 million for a new pilot program administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service that will focus new federal funding on reaching unserved households without access to basic broadband service via any capable technology available. Our industry is committed to expanding both the power and reach of broadband technology in rural America and is currently working with a number of states to direct public funding where it is most needed and to make a measurable difference in connecting unserved Americans to the internet.

“CTIA commends President Trump and Congressional leaders for approving a federal spending bill that includes key provisions from the RAY BAUM’s Act and MOBILE NOW that will enable the FCC to hold much needed spectrum auctions this year while driving other important wireless infrastructure and spectrum reforms," said CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker. "These measures will help stimulate billions of dollars in investment, create millions of new jobs and spur the deployment of new wireless networks.”

“Today’s government funding deal is good news for every American and especially for our mobile economy," said Rob McDowell, chief public policy advisor of Mobile Future. "The omnibus package includes critical language to facilitate the roll out of next generation networks across the nation. The MOBILE NOW Act and Spectrum Auction Deposits Act give the FCC the tools to free up more of the nation’s airwaves for innovation and investment in the wireless ecosphere. Every American consumer stands to benefit from policies that help us win the global competition for 5G.”

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.