In separate meetings with four of the five commissioners and the FCC’s broadband task force, broadcast representatives began making the case against the FCC’s cash-for-spectrum plan.
Broadcasters have begun making their opposition to the FCC’s cash-for-spectrum plan known in visits with FCC officials.
Last Friday, a contingent including Hearst Television CEO David Barrett and several Washington broadcast reps met with Blair Levin and other members of his Broadband Task Force, which floated the plan with broadcasters last month.
The day before, newly installed NAB President Gordon Smith met with all the FCC commissioners except for Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The plan calls for broadcasters to swap most of their spectrum for a share of the proceeds that would come from the auctioning of the spectrum to wireless broadband providers. TV stations would keep just enough bandwidth to continue broadcasting a single SD channel.
According to the ex parte notice disclosing the meeting, the Barrett group argued against reallocating broadcast spectrum.
The broadcasters said they questioned an assertion by an FCC official that most over-the-air service in a market could be provided in an SD format by a single digital channel.
And they suggested that they needed to hang on to their spectrum so they could continue broadcasting HDTV and mobile DTV. “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,” the notice said.
In addition to Barrett, who represented the NAB, the group included Marty Franks, of CBS; David Donovan, Victor Tawil and Bruce Franca, all of the Association of Maximum Service Television; Lynn Claudy of the NAB; and Jonathan Blake, a broadcast attorney from Covington & Burling.
Smith made some of the same points in his meeting with the four commissioners. “He noted that any national broadband plan must consider wired as well as wireless broadband platforms,” the ex parte notice said. “In addition, he noted that broadcasters are developing new and innovative ways to harness the potential created by the recent switch to all digital television.”
Smith met with Genachowski last Wednesday, but, according to the ex parte notice, spectrum was not on the agenda; the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules were.