Genachowski Asks Congress for Help in Reclaiming Broadcast Spectrum

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asked Congress for help Wednesday in
reclaiming broadcast and other spectrum for mobile broadband. That came
in a June 9 hearing in the House Appropriations Committee Financial
Services Subcommittee on the FCC's 2011 budget.

The chairman
promised to take "full account" of over-the-air viewers, and continued
to maintain that the plan would be a win-win-win (for broadcasters,
viewers and the government), but said the government needs to move fast
to head off a spectrum crunch.

Congress needs to approve the
FCC's plan to use some of the proceeds of that auction to compensate
broadcasters for giving up spectrum. While much of the broadband plan
the FCC can do on its own, spectrum reclamation is one of the things
that Congress needs to weigh in on as well.

He also fielded lots
of questions on the FCC's plan to reclassify broadband, saying he was
willing to work with stakeholders to find the best way forward,
which he continued to argue was his proposed "middle ground" between
onerous regulation and doing nothing.

The FCC is planning to
launch a proceeding to classify some of broadband under Title II common
carrier regs at its June 17 meeting.

Subcommittee Chairman Jose
Serrano (D-NY) asked Genachowski when he thought the FCC could put the reclassification
issue behind it. The chairman did not provide a timetable but said the
commission would not put broadband plan implementation on hold while it
resolves the question of its authority over broadband access.

asked if the BitTorrent decision "crippled" the FCC. Genachowski would
not go that far but acknowledged that it raised serious questions and
problems that had to be solved to preserve the FCC's oversight of
broadband access.

Asked if he had support for his proposal,
Genachwoski would not speak for his fellow commissioners. For their part,
Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker
have both said they saw no marketplace failure justification for the
imposition of onerous new regs, said ranking member Jo Ann Emerson

Genachowski said he opposed onerous new regulationss
as well and that his "third way" proposal does not include them. "I
support the restoration of the light-touch regime that we have had," he

Serrano asked Genachowski why the country had "fallen
behind" in broadband. The chairman suggested that in part it was dealing
with legacy infrastructure, one of the reasons he said the FCC needed
to migrated the Universal Service Fund to broadband.

access to the hearing itself over broadband was interrupted for a large
swath of the proceedings due to streaming problems.

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.