State broadcasters ask Senate leaders to protect free TV


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have each received a letter from 50 members of the National Alliance of State Broadcasters confirming broadcast support for building out state-of-the-art broadband service, but not at the expense of free over-the-air television.

Organizations representing states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico took time to point out the critical value of free television, particularly in times of strife.

“As our nation’s original wireless communications service, local television stations work hand-in-hand with our nation’s first responders in times of emergency,” they wrote. “Through this partnership, we understand the need for an interoperable public safety network, in addition to a robust free broadcast system. As shown by the recent natural disasters across the country, local broadcasters are not only irreplaceable as the first alert of incoming danger, they are also integral in the rebuilding of communities. Local broadcasters take seriously their obligations as stewards of the nation’s public airwaves.”

They noted that channel repacking should not cause any of America’s 46M viewers who receive television off-air to lose service.

Another thing to avoid is confusion similar to the recent transition to digital television broadcast, which by the way cost broadcasters $10B to pull off.

They concluded, “The American system of television broadcasting is unique in all the world. Our viewers rely on the ubiquitous availability of free, over-the-air television. We urge you to help us remedy these remaining concerns before the legislation is scheduled for consideration by the Senate. It is imperative that the television stations we represent retain the flexibility to continue to innovate as technologies and markets evolve.”