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Free TV Coalition Says Broadcaster Broadband Could Deliver $400B to Treasury

The Coalition for Free TV -- Sinclair is a driving force -- says it has a Broadcaster Broadband Plan it is pitching to Congress that will raise as much as $400 billion for the U.S. treasury in an ongoing annuity, as opposed to the one-time payment from a broadcast spectrum auction.

The coalition, whose members represent hundreds of TV stations, will unveil the plan Oct. 20 at the National Press Club.

That comes as the deficit-reduction supercommittee is being pushed to include broadcaster spectrum auctions as a way to raise $6 billion or so for deficit reduction by reclaiming spectrum from broadcasters to auction for wireless broadband. That figure is after broadcasters are compensated for giving up spectrum and some of the proceeds are used to build an interoperable broadband emergency communications network.

"We have delivered to Congress a robust plan that continues the broadcast industry's decades-long record of serving our local communities," states Mark Aitken, VP of Advanced Technology for Sinclair Broadcast Group. "A ‘Broadcast Overlay' serves multiple objectives by delivering a solution providing wireless high data-rate capacity, continues to maximize the efficient use of broadcast TV spectrum, offers the public new wireless service choices, and creates an entirely brand-new revenue stream for the U.S. Treasury."

"There is now a clear choice for the Congress," said Jim West, coalition member and Legacy TV president. "They can choose a plan that will further entrench wireless monopolies, destroy thousands of jobs and television stations, decrease competition and raise only $25 billion or they can choose a plan that will eventually raise significantly more money, increase competition and choices for the American public, create jobs and will continue to offer entertainment, news and information to the public through thousands of television stations."

Broadcasters have argued that they can provide a more efficient off-load of wireless traffic at peak times, helping wireless companies handle their traffic without having to give up broadcast spectrum to do it.