Broadcasters prepare to defend spectrum

A government movement to slice the overall spectrum allocated to TV broadcasters could have a direct and lingering effect on the cable industry and, in turn, cable subscribers' monthly bills.

The FCC wants to reclaim about 120 MHz of 300 MHz of spectrum set aside for free over-the-air TV and use it as part of a national broadband initiative. The end result for consumers would be more wireless spectrum for broadband applications and less opportunity for consumers to grab ever-elusive digital TV channels off the air with antennas.

Broadcasters are already struggling with reduced footprints thanks to the digital transition. At the same time they're reaching fewer subscribers, they're depending more on cable, satellite and telco help to get their signals out. Almost contrarily, while needing that help they're also asking for money for those signals. The FCC has concluded that only about 10 percent of the U.S. population still watches TV with an antenna so it's logical to reallocate the spectrum and, in the end, force consumers onto pay TV platforms that could cost more because broadcasters are being paid for what once was free.

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