Broadcasters last week got some bipartisan FCC support
for remaining part of the media equation in the face of
the bandwagon for broadband delivery of, well, just about
everything. The FCC launched proposals to pave the way for
auctioning broadcast spectrum by changing service rules
on the broadcast band to make fixed and mobile wireless
broadband co-primary license holders with broadcasters,
as well as allowing for channel sharing for broadcasters who
want to give up spectrum while remaining on air in some
form, and trying to make VHF signals more DTV-friendly.
While the message from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
was that some broadcasters were like trains
hauling empty boxcars that he wanted to start filling with
smartphones, he also said he expected broadcasters and
broadband providers to co-exist in their co-primary roles.
But the major shout-outs came from Democrat Michael
Copps, former acting chairman during the last spectrum
remake—the DTV transition—and senior Republican
Robert McDowell. “I believe in the power of broadcasting
and the potential for broadcasters to not only survive, but
to thrive, if they will but recognize their strengths and the
advantages that localism and the public-spirited administration
of the airwaves bring to them,” said Copps, who
also observed that if more broadcasters had used multicast
channels for public service programming, he would
not be now entertaining other uses for the band.
“As we go forward in this proceeding, I will remain
mindful of the significant public interest benefits that
broadcasters deliver,” said McDowell. “I also understand
the need to ensure that any new rules allowing for more
flexible uses within the TV band must leave incumbent
broadcast licensees with viable opportunities to experiment
with their own mix of wireless services, including
but not limited to traditional broadcasting.”
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.
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