Communications subcommittee has questions for FCC


FCC Commissioners / May 2012When the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology sits down for its 7/10/12 oversight hearing with the five FCC commissioners, it has plenty of topics in mind for discussion.
Here’s a list:

We’ll start with the broadcast intensive questions first, then move on to the ones that will take attention away from broadcast issues (and please note that sometimes that is a good thing):

* Auctions of television spectrum: Minority staffers who put together a background memo on the hearing note that $1.75B is allocated to supplanted television broadcasters, and that initial rulings on the matter are expected from the FCC this fall.

* FM chip in mobile phones: The massive outages in the Washington DC area caused by heavy storms is but the latest example of cell phone service being reduced to anything ranging from ineffective to useless – arguing for access to FM radio on cell phones so all consumers can get critical emergency information. It will likely be good for radio if this topic gets a lot of attention.

* Video and broadcast ownership: Republicans will want to end cross-ownership band and perhaps look at local caps; we’ll see if Democrats continue to resist strongly; also will look at revamping cable rules (interesting, with no specific mention of retransmission consent, although it could still come up). If a lot of time is spent here, we may get a peek at what will be on the agenda of Congress for the rest of the year and after the 2012 election.

* Cable spectrum transfer: A group of cable companies are trying to sell spectrum to Verizon. The question of interest to broadcasters: Was this spectrum hoarding, and if Verizon is getting all this spectrum, regulators willing, how much TV spectrum do they really need?

* Auctions of federally-used spectrum: This may move to a spectrum sharing model rather than a potentially expensive full clearing of certain spectrum blocks. Good time to refill your coffee cup.

* Interoperable public safety broadband network: If this takes up a lot of time, it will be time spent on an issue of little concern to broadcasters, other than their concern as citizens of the US.

* Special access: Wired telephone stuff – time to hit the rest room?

* Universal service fund: nap time!