Select Committee favors television band incentive auction


In its search for tools to reduce the federal deficit, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has fired off a letter to President Barack Obama advocating not only an incentive auction of spectrum held by television broadcasters, but also making available additional government-held spectrum.

According to a Hillicon Valley report, the letter came from four of the 12 members, including Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA). Upton was formerly chair/ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee; Kerry is currently chair of the Senate version.

The quartet said that incentives should be provided for television broadcasters to put the spectrum underpinning their stations up for auction. They shouldn’t have too much trouble getting the administration to agree, since the concept is part of Obama’s American Jobs Act.

The group believes that the auctions will spur capital investment in building broadband infrastructure and trigger job creation, in addition to providing billions of dollars in auction returns that can be funneled directly into deficit reduction.

They do not believe getting a certain amount of spectrum out of broadcasters will be enough, however, and are asking that federal spectrum users be tasked with using their areas more efficiently, thereby freeing up addition spectrum for auction.

According to the report, they are looking for a response by 10/14/11.

Here are the members of the Committee:

Patty Murray (D-WA), Co-Chair
Max Baucus (D-MT)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Co-Chair
Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
Dave Camp (R-MI)
James Clyburn (D-SC)
Fred Upton (R-MI)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

RBR-TVBR observation: The devil will of course be in the details. But we’ll say it again: The damage that can be done to free over-the-air television could be severe, while the dent an auction in the band will make in the federal deficit will be all but imperceptible. This complex and technical issue should warrant careful and deliberate consideration. It is regrettable that it keeps coming up as a bag of easy money in a congressional scavenger hunt.

RBR-TVBR NOTE: We encourage all to “Like” on Facebook and become a social media editor with RBR-TVBR

We urge all to!/RBRTVBR join the broadcaster social media Voice