Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduces spectrum bill


Commerce Committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) says the first priority of his bill on communications spectrum is to provide for the needs of first responders. Secondly, he wants to make smart use of all spectrum, and among many other things, provides for FCC incentive auctions to reclaim spectrum. NAB quickly praised Rockefeller’s approach and vowed to work with him to provide for the nation’s spectrum needs going forward.

Rockefeller said, “…there is no better way to honor the bravery of our police, firefighters, and other first responders than to provide them with the communications resources they need to do their job.”

Then he added, “But it does more than that—because it lays the foundation for smart spectrum policy that will create economic opportunity out of wireless airwaves for years to come.  It does this by providing the Federal Communications Commission with the authority to hold voluntary incentive auctions.  This will help put valuable spectrum resources to innovative new commercial uses by promoting efficient uses of our nation’s airwaves.  Even better, by providing authority for incentive auctions, this legislation will offer a revenue stream to assist public safety with the construction and development of their network.”

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith commented, “NAB is grateful for the wise leadership of Senator Rockefeller on an issue of critical importance to the millions of viewers who rely on free and local television. Broadcasters have no quarrel with incentive auctions that are truly voluntary, and the new legislation provides sound direction for that approach. We will work closely with Congress as it crafts spectrum legislation that preserves the ability of local TV stations to serve our viewers.”

Rockefeller detailed the key provisions contained in his bill:

Key Provisions of the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act would:

* Establish a framework for the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for public safety;

* Allocate 10 megahertz of spectrum, known as the “D-block,” to public safety;

* Direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop technical and operational standards to ensure nationwide interoperability and build-out (including in rural areas);

* Direct the FCC to establish standards that allow public safety officials, when not using the network, to lease capacity on a secondary, but preemptible basis to non-public safety entities, including other governmental and commercial users; and

* Provide the FCC with incentive auction authority, which allows existing spectrum licensees to voluntarily relinquish their airwaves in exchange for a portion of the proceeds of the commercial auction of their spectrum.  This provides new incentives for efficient use of spectrum.  In addition, the funds from these incentive auctions, in conjunction with funds from the auction of other specified spectrum bands, and funds earned from leasing the public safety network on a secondary basis, will be used to fund the construction and maintenance of the nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband public safety network.

RBR-TVBR observation: It is the opinion of this publication that smart broadcasters will not only keep their spectrum, they will develop it. Spectrum is the real estate of the communications business, and the full-service broadcasters of the immediate future can make the FCC commissioners proud while thriving thanks to their exemplary multi-pronged service in the local public interest,