Religious broadcasters urge removal of spectrum from debt debate


National Religious Broadcasters has joined the ranks of individuals and organizations who believe that an issue as complex as spectrum allocation and incentive auctions has no place in a completely unrelated high-stakes budget negotiation. NRB urges caution in any attempt to address spectrum as a side show to the current debate.

“Television broadcasts are truly valuable to Americans. This is nowhere more evident than among the many non-commercial broadcasters NRB represents that operate thanks to the generous giving of those in the communities they serve,“said Dr. Frank Wright, President and CEO of NRB. “Sadly, the debt ceiling plan currently being offered by Senate Democrats would put these community servants in a very precarious spot as it could auction away their future.”

As with other expressions of concern, it is the proposal of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) that is sparking concern. In addition to suggesting an auction value that many, particularly the CBO, would consider to be inflated, it would authorize the FCC to move ahead on auctions and channel repacking without offering adequate protection to broadcast interests

NRB has an additional concern – the plight of Class A and low power television stations, a significant number of which are owned by NRB members.

“Religious television broadcasters were called on by Congress to make significant sacrifices in the move to digital television and subsequent spectrum auctions just a few years ago. With questions about current broadband spectrum allocations not being fully utilized, we wonder if a new auction is truly necessary,” said Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Nevertheless, if there is to be one, NRB urges Congress to seek out and include explicit provisions and protections that fairly honor the services and investments of religious full power, Class A, and low power television broadcasters in their local communities.”