SBE launches letter writing campaign at NAB


The Society of Broadcast Engineers is conducting a letter writing campaign to solicit co-sponsors for H.R. 2102, the FCC Technical Resource Enhancement Act (Tech Act). Members attending the NAB Show can complete a letter to their representative at the SBE booth, L29.

The Tech Act would permit each FCC Commissioner to appoint an electrical engineer or computer scientist as an additional professional staff assistant, to provide the commissioner with technical consultation and provide technical liaison with the FCC Bureaus. The Congressional Budget Office estimated late last year that the net cost of this legislation will be “insignificant”. Its value far exceeds the negligible cost, as it will reduce the potential for time-consuming, costly, and sometimes irreversible FCC errors.

“We feel the passage of this legislation is important for the industry and our members. We encourage all members of the SBE to write a letter to their U.S. Representative and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2102,” said SBE President Ralph Hogan CPBE, DRB, CBNT.

The FCC routinely makes decisions on extremely complex technical and scientific topics and has done so with decreasing and now virtually nonexistent engineering or scientific expertise in the commissioners’ offices. That lack of expertise is reflected in recent FCC missteps, including the “Lightsquared” proceedings and the Broadband Over Power Line Systems docket. Errors in the science of spectrum allocations are costly and result in substantial delays in the implementation of new services and technologies. Staff available to inform each FCC Commissioner on technical aspects of issues before the agency is vital. The Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology, though competent, is not a substitute for providing each commissioner with an independent basis for evaluating varied, complex technical challenges.

Members of the SBE not attending the NAB Show can find and use a sample letter in the Legislative section of the SBE website to submit a letter to their U.S. Representative.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s a no-brainer, no pun intended. Communications, wireless and media technology is moving at light speed and the Commissioners can’t be expected to keep up with every nuance—yet they are. Nonetheless, their decisions affect us all as there’s only so much spectrum to go around. H.R. 2102 would lessen each Commissioner’s work load—providing help in mastering all of the variables and consequences of each decision before them—before they have to cast their votes. As long as the professional staff assistants are unbiased, they will provide each Commissioner one more solid source to rely upon when tackling the mountain of new technology they must pour over each month.