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Spectrum debate escalates, broadcasters step up lobby


A debate is escalating over the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to use television broadcast spectrum for mobile services.

Broadcasters have been quick to tell to FCC that they need to keep airwaves to pursue their own plans to bring television to mobile devices. They say over-the-air television is a service to the public. This is while FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has promised to bring new spectrum to the wireless industry.

In a filing at the FCC that detail meetings with officials at the agency, New Corp. lobbyists met with members of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis that the media giant, which owns Fox, plans to use the airwaves for mobile television services.

“We explained that, in addition to its free, over-the-air television service, Fox has plans to use the spectrum licensed to its digital television broadcast stations to provide consumers with a variety of new mobile television and other mobile media
applications,” according to News Corp.’s filing signed by senior vice president of regulatory affairs, Maureen A. O’Connell. "We pointed out that Fox is making a serious commitment to making mobile television work as a viable business model and as a unique new media platform for consumers."

David Barrett, CEO of Hearst, and Martin Franks, executive vice president of policy planning and government relations along with other broadcast executives met with FCC officials in charge of a national broadband plan to express their concerns.

According to their filing, the executives met with the FCC’s Blair Levin on October 30. In their filing:

"The broadcasters also described some current and planned broadcaster uses for spectrum currently allocated for free over-the-air broadcast service, including high definition programming and mobile digital television services. The broadcasters specifically disagreed with a statement by one member of the FCC task force that most over-the-air service is provided in standard definition format and could be offered in any given market by a single broadcast transmission using multicast technology. We observed that a plan to limit the ability of broadcasters to provide over-the-air HDTV service would harm the viewing public and relationships with other multichannel video providers."

As reported, Levin said last month that the agency was considering, as part of its national broadband plan, a take back of spectrum from broadcaster to meet the exploding demand for wireless network capacity. Wireless carriers have warned of a looming crisis for wireless spectrum as more people using smart phone and other data-intensive devices flood to the mobile Web.

Electronics trade group CEA commissioned a report that showed more than $60 billion could be raised by auctioning spectrum held by broadcasters.

Last week, Commissioner Michael Copps criticized broadcasters who are fighting to control spectrum when the quality of broadcast media has deteriorated.

According to a Broadcasting and Cable story, Copps said: that if broadcasters don’t change "mind-numbing 'monoprogramming' and reverse consolidation in the media industry, then "maybe those who want the spectrum back have the better of the argument after all."

By Cecilia Kang  |  November 11, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  FCC , Mobile , Spectrum  | Tags: cable, fcc, fox, hdtv  
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Comments

Its like watching two greedy old men fight over a penny.

Always follow the money... "WHO is getting paid off in the end in EVERY SCENARIO, and what are their corporate connections and policies?" is what you need to ask yourself before you care what they are yelling about.

When both groups make a bunch of noise it is called "Smoke and Mirrors" because it distracts people from what is REALLY HAPPENING behind it all

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | November 12, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Why would the broadcasters even be given the time of day on this?

Put the spectrum up for auction, perhaps considering the value of any services that will be made available universally at no charge as part of the bid price.

Posted by: ChicagoKen | November 12, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

They did do that but couldnt get the price they wanted for it...

just another bid to renegotiate...

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | November 12, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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