Broadcast not high on Washington’s priority list


U.S. Congress
Going by the limited number of statements offered at the Senate Commerce Committee FCC oversight hearing, there isn’t a whole lot of interest in broadcast issues this year, other than the one related to broadband propagation, that being the television incentive auction program.

Here are summaries of the testimony of four key senators and two commissioners: In the interest of time, only Chairman Julius Genachowski and Robert McDowell (R) were offered the chance to make an opening statement.

We include primarily only those comments which pertain to broadcasters in some way, which leads to a fairly short article. McDowell, for example, spent almost all of his time discussing his fears concerning international internet regulation.


* Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) (full committee chair): Commission actions affect, among other things, what we see on television. Incentive auctions are complex – must maximize resources available to construct interoperable first responder network.

* Mark Pryor (D-MA): Video is on this year’s agenda, among other things. Pryor is particularly interested in protecting broadcasters during incentive auctions. Congress tried to find a balance approach to protect broadcasters while achieving broadband goals, would like to see the FCC respect that approach.

* John Thune (R-SD) (full committee ranking member): Concerned that much of our regulation is aimed at a pre-internet communications environment.

* Roger Wicker (R-MS): Wants to work with FCC on getting quality broadband everywhere, including rural areas.


* Julius Genachowski: Working on maximizing the benefits of broadband, investment up 40% since 2009, while in Europe it’s been essentially flat. The incentive auction proceeding has been launched and is on track for 2014. Cites the need to improve media diversity. Says that FCC is already working with low employee base, and believes sequestration cuts will compromise the ability of the FCC to fulfill its duties.

* Robert McDowell: Wants sensible adoption of incentive auction. Is worried about increasing international control of the internet, spends most of his time on that topic.