NAB Chief: Broadband plan would ‘yank away’ broadcasters’ spectrum

“Technology chopped the head off the record industry’s business model,” said Gordon, former Republican senator from Oregon. “So what did the industry do? It began suing people. The problem is that you can’t stop technology with trial lawyers. You know you’re in trouble when the health of your business is reduced to suing teenagers.”

He then turned to the “great spectrum grab of the new National Broadband Plan” and the battle over retransmission consent rights for broadcasters:

Let me first say that I applaud FCC Chairman Genachowski for the truly comprehensive effort he made to meet Congress’ request for a broadband plan. We all want a plan that will help America move into a bright communications future. And broadcasters are willing to help.

We agree that broadband is good for America. And we also know that broadcasting is good for America. We want to see a bright future for both.

Our concern is that the broadband plan would yank away more than one third of the spectrum used for TV broadcasting so that wireless broadband companies can have more.

Now, broadcasters just spent $15 billion to meet the government-mandated transition to digital; the government, incidentally, spent another $2 to 3 billion to ensure a smooth switch for viewers. In fact, American consumers have spent untold billions swapping out analog TV sets for HDTV sets in detrimental reliance upon the urging of the United States Congress.

In that transition, we gave back more than a quarter of the TV spectrum, which the government then auctioned off to broadband companies. And they haven’t even started to use it yet. Unfortunately, this plan appears to be an example of unnecessary government intervention when technology in the marketplace is already working through the issue.

And if history is a teacher, industry innovation solves issues far better and far faster than government.

Remember the 1996 Telecom Act? The ink was barely dry before it was substantially outdated due to technological advancements. The National Broadband Plan took a year and a half, and over $20 million, to draft. Imagine all the innovation that took place while the plan was being drafted.

With the many advancements coming to wireless that use spectrum more efficiently, you have to ask, what makes this spectrum grab — and the disruption and loss of innovation it would cause — really necessary?


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