State broadcasters make auction case to Select Committee


There isn’t much new in the statement sent by members of 11 state broadcast associations – they’ve been telling relevant committees and the FCC about the broadcast position on incentive spectrum auctions involving the TV space for quite some time. But many members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction are not members of the relevant committees, so the broadcasters are sending them the message too.

The joint letter stated that broadcasters are aware that auctions may be used as a revenue generator by the Committee. “Broadcasters are not opposed to voluntary incentive auctions so long as authorizing legislation maintains specific safeguards to ensure that: (a) viewers who currently rely on and can view local television stations today continue to have access to those stations after an auction and repacking of the TV band; and (b) broadcasters who choose not to volunteer are held harmless by the process.”

“More than 46 million Americans rely exclusively on free, over-the-air television for emergency communications, local news, and entertainment,” they said. “It is essential that we preserve their access to local television stations – received both over-the-air and via pay TV services – after an incentive auction. To ensure this, any incentive auction legislation should direct the FCC to preserve viewer access to their current local stations, with only de minimis reductions allowed, while, at the same time, giving the agency flexibility to facilitate successful auctions. We believe this is achievable and provides the correct balance between finding more spectrum for wireless broadband and preserving a vibrant local TV broadcast industry.”

They also said that broadcasters who want to use their digital plant for innovative new services should retain the ability to do so, and that there should be one, and only one auction to avoid consumer confusion and constant turmoil.

Associations that signed on to the letter include those from Arizona, California, Maryland/D.C./Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.