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Editorial: Credit Due

The White House, in a blog item a couple of weeks back, gave the Department of Defense all kinds of love for agreeing to give up and share spectrum for wireless broadband. We have no problem with that. Compromise is more the province of the State Department than the DOD, so when generals agree to play nice and share, it is worth giving them some positive reinforcement.

But notable for its absence was any shout-out to broadcasters that also compromised, agreeing with DOD on a plan to share their broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) spectrum with Defense. That is the ENG spectrum used to get breaking onthe- spot news back to studios and out to viewers. The BAS spectrum is also used for some cable relay service, but broadcasters had the major dog in the fight.

ENG users were displaced, and their spectrum allocation reduced, in the 2009 DTV switch. Broadcasters were not eager to reduce bandwidth again. But NAB rolled up its sleeves—even without gold braids on them—and did the deal.

The NAB initially fought the sharing idea, based on studies suggesting it was infeasible. But the association dug in, along with DOD and the Society of Broadcast Engineers, to come up with a solution. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) thanked broadcasters, DOD and others for working together to make it happen.

The White House probably meant to say that too, but just forgot. We know how it can make amends: Insure that there is a robust broadcasting business after the incentive auction.