Techies want to crowd out broadcasters?


Whether intentionally or not, it appears that a prominent member of the community backing unlicensed devices into the spectrum cracks in broadcast television expects that they will shove broadcasters out of the space in due time. The National Association of Broadcasters alerted the FCC to the comments of New America Foundation’s Michael Calabrese. Calabrese argued that free over-the-air television should be replaced in its entirety by subscription based services, and Mark McHenry, CEO of Shared Spectrum Company, further noted that the conservative power limits cited by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for unlicensed devices was just a starting point, to be pushed up over time.

NAB has demanded a public comment period to discuss a recent FCC engineering report on the topic, as well as to head off what it views as a premature vote on same.

In the current filing, NAB said, "The end-game for these groups is, over the next few years, to increase the power of personal, portable devices to dangerously high levels, with complete disregard for the effects on the public’s television broadcasting service (as well as on licensed wireless microphone operations and cable. Whether a white spaces proponent is motivated by the goal of destroying television or is just indifferent to the consequences that flow from embracing sensing technologies that have failed and from an adjacent-channel power limit (40mW) that would destroy service, the result is the same."

NAB EVP Dennis Wharton commented, "After yesterday’s comments, it is now crystal-clear that the ‘new America’ Mr. Calabrese is working toward is one where free television is thrown by the wayside to make room for subscription-based services marketed and sold by his organization’s financial backers."

RBR/TVBR observation: We have always been stunned that the FCC was even considering monkeying around with the television band at the exact same time it is spearheading the DTV transition. It is flabbergasting to find out that the would-be spectrum interlopers plan to establish a beachhead there and start swinging their axes to claim the territory as their own. Hey, Congress! 70 of you have recognized that this is not something we should be toying with right now. Looks like the FCC may need some oversight – STAT!