Broadcasters: Don't lay a finger our spectrum

Today, 16 local broadcasting companies filed comments with the FCC to get across one very clear message: Don't mess with our airwaves.

Broadcasters, who recently gave up a big chunk of spectrum for public safety uses during the digital TV transition, are worried the FCC will target them in its plans to reallocate existing licensed spectrum. The agency has made clear that it needs more spectrum to power the surging demand for wireless and broadband services. It has also made clear that it will look in every nook and cranny for available spectrum. Broadcasters, which have significant spectrum holdings, are an obvious place to start.

Allbritton Communications Company, McGraw-Hill Broadcasting Company, Media General and Meredith Corporation are among the broadcasters who filed the comments.

The main gist of the filing can be found in the following passage:

"Many commenter demands for reallocating spectrum are anti-competitive or otherwise meritless. Consumers value video programming more highly than any other content, and a reallocation of broadcast spectrum could conveniently eliminate the wireless industry’s most serious competitive threat – Mobile DTV. Indeed, a spectrum reallocation from television to wireless broadband would amount to the Commission picking industry winners and losers, denying the public the “triple play” of HD, multicast, and mobile while permanently locking broadcasters into a 20th century service. Moreover, any broadcast spectrum reallocation would threaten the ability of the tens of millions of Americans who rely exclusively on over-the-air service to maintain access to emergency, news, and public affairs information – the same viewers for whom the Administration recently extended the DTV transition."

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television also filed separate comments today. They assert that maintaining quality local broadcast television service and improving broadband access are "complementary goals."

"The Commission should reject proposals that would result in one important public policy goal, local broadcasting, being subordinated to another, broadband....

"Consumers spent billions of dollars investing in digital and high definition television receivers and digital-to-analog converter boxes so that they could experience the benefits of digital broadcasting, including HD and multicast programming, and other ancillary and supplementary services...The spectrum reallocation proposals would impede or end consumers’ access to these important broadcasting services."

CTIA, the wireless industry trade association, and T-Mobile filed comments suggesting that some spectrum licensed to broadcasters should be reallocated to other, "more efficient", uses. CTIA says it needs at least 800 megahertz of spectrum to meet future demand.