Preston Padden: “The Rupert Murdoch I worked for was brilliant, courageous, optimistic and a gentleman. Which makes his bile-filled network all the more confounding.”
Preston Padden: “In Nixon’s railing against the liberal bias of the networks, one can almost hear Mr. Trump railing against social-media companies.”
Preston Padden, head of advocacy for the C-Band Alliance, which advocates for marketplace deals to repurpose C-Band spectrum, has exited the organization as of March 5. But Padden will still be keeping his hand in. He said he will work with his successor on a C-Band transition plan that will “silence our critics,” and consult with CBA from his home base in Colorado.
The C-Band Alliance’s voluntary, market-based plan to clear 200 MHz for 5G wireless while fully protecting the TV and other current C-band customers. This should be a “no brainer” — private companies using their own capital to clear voluntarily the mid-band spectrum necessary to bring 5G to all Americans and to stay even with China in the race to 5G while protecting existing customers.
“Microsoft’s bet seems to be that it’s cheaper to hire slick PR muscle and to try to hoodwink regulators into handing out free spectrum than to buy spectrum like everyone else. As someone whose 600 MHz auction battle scars are still healing, I sure hope they are wrong.”
Preston Padden: “I have longtime friends who believe that the public interest requires the FCC to strictly limit the ownership of multiple TV stations. I genuinely understand and respect their opinions. But, my personal experience over 40 years in the industry suggests that TV ownership limits intended to enhance diversity may, in fact, prevent the creation of meaningfully diverse competitors.”
The spectrum sales advocate Preston Padden says since the bidding is finished, the anti-collusion requirements are no longer necessary.
The process will begin again with round 4 of the reverse auction most likely on Dec. 13. NAB President Gordon Smith’s reaction: “The results of the latest round of the TV auction leave us scratching our heads, given the decade-long refrain of a spectrum crunch. We look forward to the next round.”
Preston Padden was once a network exec whose job was to keep affiliates in line. Today, he’s seeing things differently. The relationship is way out of whack, he says. The networks have too much clout. I tend to agree, but, unlike Padden, I don’t think a solution is to be found in FCC oversight. One alternative may be for small affils to take a page from cable’s book and form a co-op to negotiate collectively with the networks.
Former Fox and ABC network executive Preston Padden calls on the agency and Congress to pressure NBC to cancel plans to dump Ed Ansin’s WHDH as its Boston affiliate so that it can launch its own O&O there at the end of this year. “If this ‘experiment’ is successful, it almost certainly will be repeated in other cities,” Padden says.
Spectrum sales advocate Preston Padden predicts wireless carriers will bid up to $80 billion for TV broadcasters’ spectrum in the FCC’s incentive auction. While not dismissing Padden’s estimate, wireless attorney Michelle Farquhar thinks bids will end up around $45 billion, driven by consumer demand for mobile video. “Mobile video is getting huge and it’s going to take off,” she said.
Former broadcast lobbyist Preston Padden: “ATSC-3 and SFN’s may be the just what broadcasting needs to prosper in the future. Certainly there are smart and dedicated women and men working hard to make these technologies a reality. However, I would offer a few cautions.” Also, “The [affiliation] dispute between NBC and [WHDH’s] Ed Ansin is unfortunate on many levels. If I was running a network today, I would want him as a part of my distribution platform.”
According to the auction advocate, the FCC’s AWS 3 auction generated $44.6 billion last year, but the upcoming auction of TV spectrum should exceed that, given the return of the four “who drove” the AWS auction (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Dish) and expressions of interest by nearly 100 other potential bidders, including such deep pockets as Columbia Capital, Comcast, billionaire media investor Mario Gabelli and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition founder Preston Padden says the organization has accomplished its key goals and will dissolve on Wednesday, Sept. 30. He added that in addition to avoiding collusion, the coalition was disbanding because it had achieved key objectives for broadcast-friendly auction rules.
“While I believe that repealing the compulsory license is warranted,” says former Disney lobbying Preston Padden, the one unthinkable course “would be to break apart the carefully balanced 1971 agreement between the broadcasting and cable industries — to eliminate the FCC’s syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules before Congress acts to repeal the distant signal compulsory license.”
Those are what’s on my mind this afternoon. First is the good news for broadcast spectrum sellers that the FCC is listening to the EOBC and the NAB and making changes in the incentive auction rules. Second, the commission needs to listen to broadcasters and require DirecTV to keep its 12-year-old promise to carry all local TV stations in a market. Quit stalling. And, third, please NBC, cut all ties to Donald Trump. The network and the nation will be better for it.
Responding to concerns of broadcasters who plan sell their spectrum in the incentive auction next year, the FCC said they may wait until after the auction before entering into channel-sharing arrangements so they stay in the broadcasting business. The action may encourage more stations to participate in the auction and help preserve “independent voices” in broadcasting, the FCC said.
The FCC’s proposed formula for calculating the prices it will offer broadcasters in the opening round of the incentive auction will result in at least 1,100 stations getting less than they deserve. The alternative that the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition is advocating would yield billions more for stations by tying their auction value to the interference they cause rather than their business value.
Station owners have been active in the FCC rule-writing proceeding for next year’s spectrum auction, arguing for changes that could add billions of dollars to the bottom lines of broadcasters that opt to sell. At the top of the industry’s hit list is the FCC’s dynamic reserve pricing plan, which broadcasters believe will depress spectrum prices. At the same time, broadcasters are pushing for higher opening bids, figuring the higher they are, the higher the final take for broadcasters will be.
The coalition of broadcasters looking to sell their specturm in the FCC incentive auction told agency officials that key changes in how the agency conducts the auction will encourage more stations to participate and help the FCC achieve its goal of recovering 126 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband.
Preston Padden, head of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, says one FCC proposal for the 2016 incentive auction could limit the prices broadcasters get for the spectrum of stations in smaller markets, thereby discouraging their participation. Another, he says, the use of “dynamic reserve pricing” during the auction, would be likely to result in lower prices for broadcasters than a more market-friendly auction approach advocated by the coalition.
In a petition to the FCC, the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition is asking the agency to reconsider the channel sharing plans it laid out in its Incentive Auction Report & Order. The Coalition says the rules limit broadcasters’ flexibility and could cause them to reconsider the channel sharing option.
The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition gathered outside the FCC in Washington today to promote the FCC’s inventive auction. Concerned that a growing watchdog-group-organized protest over an FCC net neutrality proposal had “sucked the oxygen out of the auction, we wanted to put the oxygen back,” said coalition leader Preston Padden (left).
Preston Padden, executive director, Expanding Opportunities For Broadcasters Coalition: “Our beloved broadcasting industry has had a rocky time with the past two permanent Chairs of the FCC, Kevin Martin and Julius Genachowski (for sure things went better with Interim Chair, Mignon Clyburn). Now our industry has a chance for a fresh start with a new Chairman, Tom Wheeler. It is important that we get off on the right foot.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been busy promoting the virtues of the planned incentive auction, hoping to get TV broadcasters on board with selling all or some of their spectrum to the commission for resale to wireless carriers. He’s telling them it’s a smart move and an opportunity that won’t come again. Well, my Daddy taught me that as soon as the salesman tells you that you have to act now, you should walk away. What the chairman needs to do is go public with some honest-to-god figures on what broadcasters can expect to make in the auction.
Because the FCC’s planned spectrum incentive auction requires the cooperation of at least some large-market broadcasters, and it’s unclear whether enough will agree, there are market-based alternatives to the auction being talked about quietly in Washington that may be more lucrative for broadcasters. There is also risk that the government could take spectrum without giving broadcasters any compensation.
Because broadcasters have too many competitors, many are having a hard time earning a fair return. The common sense answer is for some stations to exit. Now, because of the compelling need for additional wireless broadband capacity, the FCC, in the incentive auction proceeding, is prepared to help ease some stations out the door.
A coalition of the willing — TV stations eager to sell their spectrum back to the FCC so it can be auctioned to wireless carriers — is urging the agency to stick to its plan to buy and sell the spectrum next year. That runs counter to the NAB, which has been calling for a more deliberate approach. “The NAB appropriately is focused on the vast majority of stations who will remain in broadcasting and our coalition is focused on broadcasters who want to participate in the auction if they can get fair value for their spectrum,” says former Disney-ABC lobbyist Preston Padden who now fronts for the coalition.
An anonymous group of broadcasters interested in selling their TV spectrum in the FCC’s incentive auction has founded the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition and has tapped former Fox and Disney lobbyist Preston Padden to lead its efforts before the FCC as the commission writes rules for the auction.
Among the lessons, both legal and life, that communications attorney Tom Dougherty imparted through example: an amazing work ethic; it’s OK to be a little outrageous; don’t be overly constrained by rules; sometimes it’s necessary to wrestle with the client, literally; it’s important to care for people; and one can do the impossible.
Stations need to begin streaming their live signals, and to offer streams of past programs, before the future passes them by. The first steps are to fashion a business model and secure the necessary rights from broadcast networks. It’s in the networks’ interest to extend those rights to affiliates, which are still the strongest distribution platform around.
While the just-announced FCC review of its retransmission consent rules doesn’t include commission intervention when talks fail, there are some things broadcasters need to be wary of. Most important is the proposal to eliminate the non-dupe rule. Without it, cable systems would be able to import an affiliate from a another market to replace one that it loses in a retrans dispute with impunity.