The NAB CEO tells FCC Chairman Genachowski that “the commission need not choose between quality wireless broadband and a robust local broadcast system” and urges him to engage TV broadcasters as partners in finding a solution.
NAB President Gordon Smith sent a letter To FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, reinforcing the results of a GfK Media report issued last week that said that almost 18% of U.S, households relies solely on over-the-air television reception.
The report, Smith wrote, underscores “the need to preserve free over-the-air (OTA) television as the commission considers how to implement a broadcast incentive auction. The new report clearly demonstrates that the number of Americans relying exclusively on OTA TV has increased dramatically since broadcasters made the transition to digital in 2009.
“According to the data, in the last year alone, OTA viewership soared to nearly 54 million Americans, roughly 18 percent of all households. Nearly one in four households headed by younger viewers (18-34) rely solely on free, local TV with no traditional pay TV subscription. Clearly, local broadcasting is strong and getting stronger.
“We know, however, that the media marketplace is rapidly evolving. As you witnessed earlier this year at the NAB Show, our industry is poised to deliver the content our viewers demand where and when they want it. Innovation occurring in the broadcast band today will define television for future generations. Broadcasters are prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s media marketplace and the needs of our viewers. The broadcast incentive auction that the commission is contemplating could directly impact the growing number of Americans that rely exclusively on free, local television and future innovation in the broadcast band.
“In our view, the commission need not choose between quality wireless broadband and a robust local broadcast system. We can, and should, have both. By actively engaging TV broadcasters as partners in this process, the FCC can achieve its goals of acquiring more spectrum for wireless broadband while preserving spectrum dedicated to free broadcast television for future generations. FCC implementation of an incentive auction will be complex, to be sure, but Congress has given the commission a blueprint for success.
“NAB stands ready to help the commission achieve its goals and remains focused on ensuring that free and local television remains an indispensable service for the American people,” Smith said.