FCC challenges TV to defend spectrum


The FCC is looking for spectrum for wireless broadband and seems to be launching a full frontal assault on spectrum currently allocated to over-the-air broadcast television. NAB argues that broadcasters just returned a great deal of spectrum and that there is plenty more available elsewhere.

A Notice of Inquiry has been released, with comments due 12/21/09. The FCC release, entitled Data Sought on Uses of Spectrum, referencing GN Dockets 09-47, 09-51, and 09-137.

It’s divided into four sections.

Part A is entitled “General Approach to Spectrum Assessment,” and asks questions like how the television stations use spectrum now, how they intend to in the future and what the economic impacts might be under various scenarios.

Part B is called “Potential Approaches to Increase Spectrum Availability and Efficiency” and delves into television broadcasters possibly sharing 6 MHz channels.

Part C, “Broadcasting and the Public Interest,” looks at the importance of emergency and informational broadcasting.

Part D, “Market Mechanisms for Spectrum Contribution,” looks into possible incentives to induce broadcasters to abandon spectrum.

NAB’s Dennis Wharton commented, “Broadband deployment to unserved areas is a worthy goal, and broadcasters believe we can help the FCC accomplish its mission without stifling growth opportunities of free and local TV stations and the millions of viewers that we serve. We would hope policymakers would remember that after spending $15 billion upgrading to the next generation of television, broadcasters just returned to the government more than a quarter of the spectrum used for free and local TV service.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC wants serious input on a question of this magnitude in only 21 days? Puh-leeze. Clearly it is time to prepare a stiff defense against this prospective land grab, and step one will be to bargain for more time.