Skip to main content

Largent Says NAB's Smith Focused on Misinterpreted "Threats" to Broadcasters

The president of the wireless industry association says
National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith has "focused
on a 'misinterpretation' of 'threats' to the broadcasting industry
from the FCC's broadband plan."

That plan proposes freeing up 120 MHz from the broadcast
band by 2015 and auctioning it for wireless broadband.

In a letter to the FCC commissioners Thursday (April 15),
CTIA President Steve Largent took aim at statements Smith made in his keynote
speech at the NAB convention in Las
Vegas this week. Smith said that with technological
advancements in spectrum efficiency "you have to ask, what makes this
spectrum grab -- and the disruption and loss of innovation it would cause --
really necessary?" He said that broadcasters concern was that "the
broadband plan would yank away more than one third of the spectrum used for TV
broadcasting so that wireless broadband companies can have more."

"We believe that Mr. Smith's dour prognosis reflects
unfounded concerns and ignores the realities of today's market and consumer
demand," wrote Largent in the letter. "The commission has charted a
rational and wise course that facilitates the dual goals of identifying
additional spectrum to be auctioned for mobile broadband without impairing
broadcast television."

Broadcasters are concerned that the voluntary spectrum
reclamation will no longer be voluntary if the FCC does not get enough
spectrum, a point that seems to be made explicitly in the plan, which says: "The
government's ability to reclaim, clear and re-auction spectrum is the ultimate
backstop against market failure and is an appropriate tool when a voluntary
process stalls entirely." Smith read that quote in his speech, and said
that the "voluntary" plan sounds like an offer broadcasters
can't refuse.