Padden Steps Down From C-Band Alliance Post

Preston Padden, head of advocacy for the C-Band Alliance, which advocates for marketplace deals to repurpose C-Band spectrum, has exited the organization as of today (March 5).

"Since mid-September I have been in D.C. full time working for the C-Band Alliance - 1661 miles from my home and family in Colorado," he said in an email. "Because my family and I simply cannot maintain that schedule anymore, and because my position requires a full-time presence in D.C., I have decided to step down from my position as Head of Advocacy and Government Relations for the CBA effective today.

But Padden will still be keeping his hand in. He said he will work with his successor on a C-Band transition plan that will "silence our critics," and consult with CBA from his home base in Colorado.

"The CBA plan is the only practical and workable plan to fulfill the twin public interest objectives of repurposing spectrum for 5G wireless while fully protecting existing C-band customers including TV programmers," said Padden. "Because of the National urgency to get mid-band spectrum to U.S. wireless providers there is no doubt that the CBA plan, or something extremely close to it, will be adopted."

Charter has called the C-Band plan a case of backroom deals and windfall profits for CBA members.

The FCC in July voted unanimously to find ways to open up the C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 Ghz) for terrestrial wireless use, either all of the 500 MHz or some portion of it, and through either an incentive or capacity auction, a market mechanism where incumbents voluntarily strike deals to reduce their footprint, or some other means.

The C-band is currently used for satellite delivery of cable and broadcast network programming to TV and radio stations, satellite radio services, and cable head-ends. The FCC wants to open it up to wireless broadband to help close the digital divide and promote 5G, both prime directives for the commission.

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The new alliance, which comprises Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat, says it will strike secondary market deals for the spectrum within three years of an FCC decision.

It argues that secondary-market transactions are the only way to re-purpose the spectrum. "An FCC auction of mid-band spectrum could not take place until 2021-2022 or later. Litigation with current satellite operators could push that date much further into the future. By that time, the United States would be a small object in China’s 5G rear view mirror."

Padden is the former president of the Association of Independent Television Stations; president, network distribution, for Fox Broadcasting; chairman and CEO, American Sky Broadcasting; president, the ABC Television Network; and EVP, government relations, The Walt Disney Company. He was also executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition of stations looking to sell spectrum in the 2016 FCC incentive auction.

"Preston's leadership, prudence and pragmatism will be missed," said Adonis Hoffman, chairman of Business in the Public Interest. "His experience and commitment in creating a workable solution on spectrum allocation has been invaluable."

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.