NAB says FCC must go to bat for over-air viewers


Gordon SmithIt’s one thing to make room for more wireless broadband services, said NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. But it’s another to do it on the backs of millions of Americans who rely on over-the-air television.

OTA households are actually on the upswing, pointed out Smith. The combination of rising MVPD subscription prices and the expanded services offered by television broadcasters taking full advantage of their digital signals are two of the contributors to the trend.

“In our view,” wrote Smith in the letter, which was copied to the other four commissioners, “the Commission need not choose between quality wireless broadband and a robust local broadcast system. We can, and should, have both. By actively engaging TV broadcasters as partners in this process, the FCC can achieve its goals of acquiring more spectrum for wireless broadband while preserving spectrum dedicated to free broadcast television for future generations. FCC implementation of an incentive auction will be complex, to be sure, but Congress has given the Commission a blueprint for success.”

Smith detailed several points he believes the FCC needs to hold in mind while moving forward with the process:

* The auction process must be fully transparent
* Broadcasters must retain their full service area
* The number of stations forced to repack should be kept to a minimum
* Broadcasters must retain their bandwidth, and thus their capability to innovate
* Plenty of time must be allowed so affected businesses can fully understand the process

The full letter can be read here.