Television gets boost from media watchdog


Media watchdog Free Press is curious as to why the FCC is making such a play for television broadcast spectrum when there are so many other places it could be looking, and while untold millions of people are happily making daily use of television.

Following the FCC’s 12/16/09 open meeting in which it discussed its search for spectrum and again specifically mentioned television, Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott said, “The only aggressive proposal on the table is whether the government should reclaim broadcast television spectrum and repurpose it for broadband. Why are the sacred cows of the telephone, cable, and wireless industry left untouched?”

This follows a report on the subject put out by the same organization entitled “Making the National Broadband Plan Work for America.”

Here is what the authors of the report had to say about spectrum:

“The conditions of this ‘spectrum crisis’ may well be true, but all of the rhetoric in the debate has focused on whether and how quickly the government should reclaim the airwaves allocated to broadcast television and auction them off to wireless companies. There may be a certain logic to phasing out old technologies and encouraging new ones – though we should be careful about pronouncing the death of broadcasting while millions of Americans are still using it. In any event, such a plan would take many years to execute, which gives the FCC time to address a conundrum implicit to the concept of the “spectrum crisis” that has received little attention.

RBR-TVBR observation: Free Press, we didn’t know you cared! Obviously, Free Press, a staunch foe of media consolidation and therefore a frequent critic of broadcasting as it exists today, has shown that it criticizes because it recognizes the value of the medium. If broadcasting wasn’t such an effective and widely used component of the media world, Free Press would probably simply ignore it.

The watchdog also seconds our previously-stated opinion that any proposal involving a second repurposing of television spectrum, hard on the heels of the spectrum giveback that followed the DTV transition, will be neither easy nor timely. There have to be more efficient places to search for spectrum.

A House panel that held a hearing on the topic recently seemed to realize all this. Let’s hope the FCC figures it our real soon as well.