Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wants broadcasters to promote their over-the-top (broadband) competition, but for a good cause.
In an OTT video speech to the National Association of Broadcasters virtual State Leadership Conference this week, Rosenworcel praised broadcasters as vital first informers, including providing key help for small businesses, encouraging vaccinations, and other pandemic-related help, then hit them up for a public interest favor.
As the FCC rolls out its pandemic-driven, $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program this week, Rosenworcel told her audience the FCC needed "trusted voices like yours" to let people know the money is available. "Here's the thing," she said, "people won't receive this help if they don't sign up."
She pointed them to the press section on the FCC's website, which has information on how to apply, and which providers are participating. "If you can spread the word and get people signed up," she said broadcasters could help people not have to make the choice between broadband and their next meal or medicine. No one should have to make that choice, she said.
Rosenworcel did not explicitly say helping promoting the availability of subsidized broadband service was part of the public interest broadcasters are licensed to serve, but she did say that broadcasters "have shown an industrywide commitment to using your platforms to help your audiences get through this pandemic," that "internet access is essential to modern life," and that as the FCC rolls out the EBB, "truth be told, we could really use your help."
According to NAB, the conference was entirely virtual, including the virtual flesh-pressing of Hill visits (providing a new meaning to the conference's goal of getting facetime with legislators).
NAB said about 600 broadcasters registered and some state associations--including Alabama, Minnesota, New Mexico and Tennessee, which were shown during the conference cheering and waving.
The conference featured appearances by Rosenworcel and Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who is chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
Butterfield has sponsored a bill to restore the minority tax certificate program, which rewarded broadcasters who sold properties to minorities. NAB has long pushed for its return.
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