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Massachusetts Legislators Advise FCC to Mind the Border

Led by Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, members of the
Massachusetts congressional delegation, have written FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski to advise him to make the incentive auctions transparent to
Congress as well as the public, and urged him to make sure that stations along
the border with Canada -- which include ones serving Boston and other
Massachusetts markets -- are not adversely affected by repacking.

"Many of our constituents, especially low-income
individuals, Spanish speakers and seniors, are reliant on free, over-the-air
programming," they said. They added that cord-cutters are also a
constituency that underscores the need to preserve over-the-air signals.

The legislators said they support freeing up spectrum for
wireless broadband -- the motivating factor behind the auctions -- but that
given the public interest obligations of broadcasters to provide local news,
local programing and emergency info (public interest obligations that wireless
providers are not subject too, they did not add, but could have), they said it
was important also to ensure that the public continues to receive free,
over-the-air service.

They advised the FCC to take the border issues into account
through "rigorous and public examination."

FCC officials have said they continue to discuss border
issues with Canada and Mexico. The issue is with interference protections that
reduce the amount of available spectrum for reclamation along the border, but
those officials have suggested they have no plans to leave U.S. border cities
without broadcast service, but instead may have to scale back the amount of
spectrum they reclaim.