Broadcasters and MVPDs in every corner of the United States made sure that US citizens had an opportunity not only to see President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, but that they also had a choice as to where they would view it. Maybe that’s why, as usual, the state of broadcasting isn’t seen as a problem worthy of comment when dissecting the State of the Union.
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, had many opportunities to at least mention ongoing controversies about broadcasting during his speeches – several issues were making a lot of noise in the very Capitol in which the SOTU speech is given, including consolidation and indecency – but we can’t ever remember Bush saying anything either.
Obama did mention the need to move forward on broadband (and more). He said, “Within the next five years, we’ll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn’t just about — this isn’t about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith seemed happy to be left out of the speech, and no doubt would like to be left out of the FCC’s plans to raid broadcast spectrum. He said of the speech, “NAB was encouraged to hear President Obama focus attention on expanding wireless broadband to rural America. The President clearly identified a blueprint for economic growth and prosperity, which is ensuring that every American — and not just those living in urban areas — has access to high speed broadband networks. We also agree with the White House that wireless broadband infrastructure build-out to rural America is the key to job creation, and NAB believes the President’s vision deserves as much attention as reallocating broadcast spectrum to wireless carriers in urban markets. We encourage Congress to consider a holistic approach to the wireless broadband issue, including passage of spectrum inventory legislation that fully identifies fallow or warehoused airwaves.”