Commissioners discuss television aspects of National Broadband Plan


The FCC unveiled its long-awaited National Broadband Plan, and while television spectrum is definitely being eyed for repurposing, there was no outright call for spectrum from the denizens of the FCC’s 8th Floor. One, in fact, expressed sentiments that were quite the opposite.

Mignon Clyburn noted that broadcasters are required to serve the public interest, unlike other media, and thought it may be unwise to chase them off of spectrum without assuring that valuable broadcast services and the provision of news and information would be replaced by newcomers to the spectrum. She also worried about further damage to the diversity level of FCC licensees under a voluntary auction plan.

Michael Copps did not discuss television broadcasters directly, but did lament serious cutbacks in news production in both the broadcast and print sectors and suggested that the provision of serious factual journalism, as opposed to opinion and entertainment journalism, had to be part of the NBP discussion going forward.

Robert McDowell called for a light regulatory touch in general, and stated firmly that any reclamation of broadcast spectrum must be voluntary on the broadcasters part. He said the FCC should not be dictating business plans to anybody.

Meredith Baker echoed the sentiments of a light regulatory touch. She said spectrum repurposing must be done holistically, and incumbents must be treated equitably. She further stated the questions about the future of journalism are best addressed by broadcast and print journalists, and that questions about programming are best addressed by programmers and viewers. She said in both cases the FCC’s nose should remain out of the issue.

Chairman Julius Genachowski, alone among the quintet, did not venture into the spectrum repurposing topic area.