CEO Dunia Shive tells securities analysts the TV group is not interested in exchanging digital channels for spectrum auction proceeds as the FCC has proposed. It wants to hang on to all of its spectrum so it can offer mobile DTV and multicasting, she says.
Like other broadcasting leaders, Belo CEO Dunia Shive is lining up against the FCC proposal under which TV stations would swap their channels for some of the proceeds derived from selling it to spectrum-hungry wireless broadband operators.
“We are not interested in cash for spectrum,” Shive told securities analysts earlier today after release of the publicly traded TV station group’s third-quarter financial results. “We are interested in developing opportunities that … are afforded by the digital transition and the investment we made in it.”
Shive said that she is particularly interested in mobile DTV, noting that Belo is working with other station groups in developing a business model for the technology that enables stations to broadcast full-motion video to mobile devices.
“That’s the biggest opportunity right now,” she said.
Belo is also using excess digital spectrum for multicasting — that is, broadcasting ancillary programming in an SD format, Shive said. Five Belo stations are airing Estrella, a Spanish-language network, on digital subchannels, she said.
Shive made a quick case against giving back spectrum. “The spectrum we use has value beyond the financial value in that we reach nearly every household, we serve the public interest and we provide timely emergency information to viewers.”
While broadcasters have spent billions to upgrade their facilities for digital broadcasting, consumers have invested in TV sets and antennas for off-air reception of HD, she said. The consumer investment “could be marginalized if there were any [spectrum] take-back that limited the ability of broadcasters to provide HD.
“On top of that, there are consumers out there that rely on free over-the-air TV.”
Talk about the cash-for-spectrum plan has just begun, she said. “We will work with our fellow broadcasters and the NAB to insure that broadcasters get a fair hearing on this topic.”