Feud between wireless companies and broadcasters turns ugly


 NAB did not appreciate CTIA trying to spoil the launch of its new group.

"Sometimes statements get made inside the Beltway that are so shockingly arrogant that one has to step back and ask: Really?" wrote Dennis Wharton, NAB's vice president of communications, in a blog post on Wednesday.

Wharton noted that part of the focus of the Future of TV Coalition is to expand the diversity of television programming. One of the partners of the coalition is Bounce TV, a new station aimed at African-American viewers.

"It’s regrettable that CTIA – on the heels of the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial – would presume to diminish the importance of start-up networks designed to serve previously underserved audiences," Wharton wrote.

The root of the feud between wireless companies and broadcasters is the dispute over how to distribute spectrum, the public airwaves that devices use to transmit signals. Television stations control some of the most powerful frequencies, and the wireless companies argue they need more spectrum to meet the needs of smartphones and tablet computers. 

The Federal Communications Commission has called for incentive auctions to free up spectrum for wireless devices. Television stations that volunteer for the program would put their spectrum up for auction, and the government would give some of the auction revenue to the participating stations and the rest would go to the U.S Treasury.  

The broadcasters say they support incentive auctions, but only with strong protections to ensure they are truly voluntary and that no station is forced off the air against its will.

In response to the NAB blog post, CTIA's Carpenter said, “If this is NAB supporting broadcast incentive auctions, then I’d love to see their tactics when they oppose something.”