Editorial: Preserve and Protect

There was bipartisan support in the Senate last week for making sure broadcasters are held harmless in the FCC’s race to reclaim their spectrum for wireless broadband. Two Democrats and two Republicans proposed an amendment on a wireless bill that would have added $1 billion to the broadcaster post-auction transition fund and another three years, if needed, for the transition of their spectrum.

It doesn’t mean that’s how much it will cost, or that broadcasters will get all of it. It means that if it winds up costing the FCC more (which would mean more stations were moving) and the agency needed to free up more spectrum, the money would be there.

The action follows a House bill introduced by Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) that would supply the additional $1B as an emergency fund and flexibility in the repack timetable if needed.

There is some political will in both houses and from both parties to provide a safety net, not just for broadcasters, or in the case of Pallone, even primarily for broadcasters—but for the viewers who depend on them for local news and information.

We encourage them to get together and find a way forward.