Broadcasters set conditions for participation in spectrum auctions

Broadcasters might be willing to give up some of their spectrum for mobile broadband use in incentive auctions so long as certain conditions are met, the head of a powerful broadcasting lobby said--indicating that there may be a way forward on the issue.

Gordon Smith, the president of the National Association of Broadcasters, sent a letter to the White House expressing the group's position, and signalling that broadcasters might be willing to participate in the FCC's proposed auctions. The commission hopes to get broadcasters to voluntarily give up around 120 MHz of spectrum for the auctions, and will give them a share of the proceeds.

Smith said the NAB has "no quarrel with incentive auctions that are purely voluntary." However, he said that the 120 MHz goal was "arbitrary" and that the reallocation "would create a number of serious engineering and practical difficulties." The auctions are one of the key recommendations of the FCC's national broadband plan, and the CTIA and wireless carriers have been clamoring for more spectrum.

In the letter, Smith said stations that choose not to participate in the voluntary auctions should be given several assurances. He said that broadcasters must not be denied the ability to deliver mobile DTV; that broadcasters should not have signal strength limitations; that stations should have the ability to use spectrum for 3DTV; and that new spectrum taxes should not be imposed.

Notably, the letter was addressed to Lawrence Summers, director of the White House's National Economic Council, and not to anyone at the FCC. An FCC spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter.

The letter comes as the Senate considers a bill that would authorize the incentive auctions.

For more:
- see this NAB letter
- see this Reuters article
- see this CQ Politics article

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