Key legislator will not rush TV spectrum bill


House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) acknowledges that time is of the essence when it comes to spectrum policy, which involves the deployment of a public safety communications network and the increased deployment of wireless broadband. However, he says he wants to get it right and will not be rushed.

Walden said he has been in talks with Democrats on how to proceed on the issue, and although he was not ready to put anything on the table immediately, he is focused on doing so before year’s end.

“For five months, we have been negotiating in earnest to find common ground on spectrum reform. I appreciate the progress we are making, and we will continue working in good faith to develop legislation that creates jobs, establishes a public safety network, and reduces the deficit. Members on both sides of the aisle are committed to getting the policy right, which is why we continue to avoid any arbitrary deadlines for action. However, I have set a personal goal to advance legislation by the end of this year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve that goal with the strongest, most effective bill we can produce.”

In addition to furthering broadband deployment and an interoperable public safety network, Walden is hoping to protect incumbent broadcasters and reduce the deficit. He said members of both parties share the same goals – it is a matter of how to get there and what the system will look like once it’s set up.

RBR-TVBR observation: In these virtual pages we tend to focus on the issue of channel repacking and fair compensation for broadcasters. On the Hill, there is another major disagreement that has nothing to do with TV and everything to do with how the public safety network is set up. There are a lot of moving parts here.

If broadcasters have an ace in the hole, it is Walden. His broadcasting roots give teeth to his desire to protect those offering key local television programming. However, the search for cash, and the possibility of raising it via incentive auctions, is causing many to advocate putting the pedal to the metal on this legislation, which could lead to ill-considered and harmful legislation.

So we are glad that Walden is not in a rush – we just hope he does not get caught up in a tsunami generated by other Congressional and administrative forces that are.

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