FCC to get what it asked for in FY 2012 budget


The FCC says it has had its request for funding for FY 2012 approved by the White House. It has asked for an increase over FY 2011 for a number of reasons, the most significant of which is perhaps working to implement the National Broadband Plan. The budget also addresses TV spectrum auctions and public broadcasting.

The FCC’s request was for $354,181,000, an increase of $18,387 over FY 2011’s total of $335,794,000.

In a statement, the FCC summarized the basis for its latest funding request. “The requested FY 2012 funding level would include: implementing the National Broadband Plan, a roadmap for economic growth and American competitiveness in the 21st century; overhauling the Commission’s data systems and processes, to streamline the FCC and make it even more effective; continuing to modernize and reform the FCC; strengthening the audit and investigation function of the Office of the Inspector General; and supporting the Commission’s public safety and cyber-security roles.”

It also needed extra funding to cover increases in the price of contractual services.

The White House endorses the possibility of auctioning portions of the television spectrum band made available by willing license holders, who would participate in banking the proceeds. The amount they may expect to earn is as yet unknown, but the White House has estimated that the auction could generate $27B.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith commented on that portion of the budget. “NAB has no quarrel with incentive auctions that are truly voluntary,” he said. “We will oppose government-mandated digital TV service degradations that would result in a loss of service for the tens of millions of viewers who watch free and local broadcasting every day. NAB also opposes new spectrum taxes that could imperil promises made to consumers during the DTV transition.”

A $20M program helping noncommercial stations pay for equipment was felled by the budget axe, but the Corporation for Public Broadcasting received an endorsement and even an increase for FY 2014, when the White House proposed it receive $451M, according to Wall Street Journal. That piece of the budget received a ringing endorsement from Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), but is already under heavy attack from Republicans in Congress, who have proposed zeroing out CPB.