NAB, wireless advocates square off in D.C. on spectrum auctions

Summertime is here and things are heating up in the nation's capitol as the House Communications Subcommittee today hears comments on the proposed auction of up to 120 MHz of unused broadcast spectrum from interested parties on both sides of the issue.

The National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) appointed spokesman Todd Schurz, president of Schurz Communications, will explain to the committee that NAB isn't opposed to spectrum auctions. Of course, that comes with several caveats, Multichannel News reports: that broadcasters need to be allowed to set a reserve price, that they can actually collect the money from sales of spectrum, and that they be protected from future efforts by the FCC to pry away unsold spectrum.

Most important, NAB indicates, is that anything other than a voluntary auction is not acceptable, and that loss of too much spectrum may result in a "diminished" viewing experience. Broadcasters need some of that spectrum to do HDTV, multicasting, and mobile TV, the Association says.

Spokespeople on the other side of this issue--wireless service providers--are all for voluntary spectrum auctions, a Broadcasting & Cable article reports. Dean Brenner, vice president of government affairs for Qualcomm, will testify for wireless interests during today's hearings. He is expected to state that no buyer or seller should be forced to participate.

In written testimony submitted prior to the hearing, Qualcomm pointed out that everyone wins with voluntary incentive auctions: the broadcasters and sellers who are paid directly; the wireless companies that get more spectrum to work with; the Treasury, with increased revenues; and the public.

For more:
- Multichannel News has this story
- Broadcasting & Cable has this story

Related articles:
FCC, NAB tangle over broadcast spectrum auctions
Spectrum bill walks razor's edge between broadcasters, FCC spectrum needs
NAB's Smith: Spectrum grab could throttle broadcast TV initiatives

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