CEA wants NAB to cheerlead auctions


Gary ShapiroGary Shapiro, President/CEO of the CEA, sent a letter to his opposite number at NAB, Gordon Smith, congratulating him on a successful NAB convention and asking him to stop expressing skepticism about TV participation in incentive spectrum auctions.

After congratulating Smith, Shapiro stated, “I write to ask that you reconsider your public (and also private) posturing on the law allowing voluntary incentive spectrum auctions. Your speech at the NAB Show appeared to be rather discouraging of broadcaster participation in these auctions. Indeed, Politico’s front page headline on April 18 declared, ‘NAB War on Wireless.’”

Shapiro noted that the bill enabling the auctions passed with the NAB’s support, than noted, “Recent statements discouraging participation in and support of these auctions are not only inconsistent with the goals of Congress, but also are not helpful to competition necessary for a successful and competitive auction.”

He closed by pointing out that broadcast stations operate on spectrum they do not own and the fact that Congress allowed them to benefit from its possible sale at auction was “extraordinarily generous.” He then asked that broadcasters support the proceeding as it moves through the FCC.

RBR-TVBR observation: What an odd letter. Seriously, is there anybody in the business who is basing their decision on whether to return spectrum or not on anything other than their own prospects and balance sheets?

Anybody who is waiting around to see what Gordon Smith thinks before deciding whether or not to participate in the auctions really shouldn’t be in a decision-making position of any kind.
The simple fact is that returning spectrum is a business decision, and most broadcasters have enough confidence in their ability to turn a profit that the allure of a one-time pay-off amounting to who knows much money just isn’t very significant.

Shapiro cited a Smith quote in which he stated “we’ve heard no hooves of a stampede. I find our members excited about their business, their futures, and anxious to hold on to their spectrum.” That is not encouraging broadcasters to stay away from the auction, it is reporting the fact that broadcasters are staying away from the auction. Big difference.