FCC chair mum on News Corp. TV licenses


Julius GenachowskiAt a Senate subcommittee hearing, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski was touting the benefits his agency provides to the nation’s financial coffers – and he also addressed the possibility of taking a look at News Corporation’s fitness as a broadcast licensee.

Genachowski appeared before the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, part of the Appropriations Committee.

According to The Hill, he was asked by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) if he had any plans to look into the News Corporation licenses.

Genachowski answered that it would be inappropriate to comment on any specifics. He did note that the possession of “good character” is a licensee requirement, and said he was aware of the News Corporation situation in the UK.

The Chairman told the Subcommittee that the FCC is one of the most successful agencies the government has insofar as bringing in cash, thanks to its auctions of spectum. He said that the direct value of 20 years worth of auctions was $50B, and the add-on value to the economy as a whole is estimated at ten times that amount.

“Shortly after the Commission delivered its budget,” he added, “Congress authorized the Commission to develop, and conduct voluntary incentive auctions – a new market-based mechanism to repurpose underutilized spectrum for flexible use such as mobile broadband. Incentive auctions are an opportunity to unleash vitally needed additional spectrum for mobile broadband and create tremendous value for American consumers, while raising billions of dollars for deficit reduction.  It’s a key part of the puzzle to unleashing the mobile broadband opportunity.”

He thanked Congress in general for granting the FCC the privilege to conduct incentive auctions and noted that the FCC is working hard to implement a program to do so.

RBR-TVBR observation: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – unless a smoking gun tied to specific New Corporation broadcast operations is found in the US, there is likely no jurisdictional peg upon which the FCC can attach an investigation. Questionable deeds at a newspaper in the UK aren’t going to cut with an agency that has only peripheral oversight of print media, is on the wrong side of the Atlantic, and answers to Congress, not the Parliament.