Newspaper goes to bat for TV in spectrum battle


The Dallas Morning News wrote a strong editorial criticizing the FCC’s plans to procure broadband spectrum in the television band, saying that “the FCC threatens to undercut the multibillion-dollar investments that radio and television broadcasting companies have made in next-generation equipment and discourage additional innovation.”

The newspaper appropriately discloses the fact that it has a vested interest in the matter. The Morning News is owned by A.H. Belo Corporation, and sister Belo Corporation owns 20 television stations, including on in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Nevertheless, it points out that the FCC spectrum grab put some television viewers in danger of losing reception. And it goes further, asking, “And what about the impact on consumers, who last year spent more than $25 billion in HDTV receivers and converted their television equipment to receive digital signals? There isn’t a faster way to devalue a service, cut off broadcasters from the capital needed to reshape themselves in the digital age, and leave consumers stranded on a technology island than the path the FCC is pursuing.”

The newspaper concludes, “Broadcasters play important roles in local communities that shouldn’t be sacrificed in the rush to expand high-speed communications. Broadcast and broadband services are not mutually exclusive. The broadcast industry has projects under way to blend the technologies and expand broadband services nationally over existing broadcast spectrum. Broadcasters are part of the solution, not the problem. This week, the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold hearings on the FCC’s plan. We hope committee members understand the stakes and oppose any policy to pressure broadcasters to relinquish spectrum.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We’ll be paying close attention to each of the hearings in Washington this week with the television spectrum question slotted in as our foremost area of concern. Stay tuned.