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State Broadcaster Associations Write to Deficit Reduction Committee

Almost a dozen state broadcaster associations have written the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to ask them to make sure they have the message that: a) broadcasters are not opposed to incentive auctions and b) that "a)" is only true if "viewers who currently rely on and can view local television stations today, continue to have access to those stations after an auction and repacking of the TV band; and broadcasters who choose not to volunteer are held harmless by the process."

A spectrum incentive auction is one of the revenue-raisers the Obama adminisration proposed in its Jobs bill, which the committee is dealing with as part of its mandate to find ways to reduce the deficit ASAP.

"Any incentive auction legislation should direct the FCC to preserve viewer access to their current local stations, with only de minimis [insignificant] reductions allowed," they wrote, "while, at the same time, giving the agency flexibility to facilitate successful auctions. We believe this is achievable and provides the correct balance between finding more spectrum for wireless broadband and preserving a vibrant local TV broadcast industry."

They also echoed the National Association of Broadcasters position that there should be only one auction and that the reclamation of broadcast spectrum for wireless not compromise new platforms like mobile DTV.

They also advised them not to look at the revenue from a spectrum auction as easy money. In the larger picture, the projected amount to be gained is a very small percentage of the goal," they wrote. "On the other hand, for local TV stations and their viewers, getting the right rules of the road for any incentive auction is critical. The issue is a complicated one and requires the careful collaboration of all parties involved."

Signing on to the letter were associations from Arizona, California, Maryland/D.C./Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.