Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Broadcasters at risk in budget debate?

The last couple of weeks have created some concern for U.S. broadcasters and generated a lot of direct and indirect lobbying.  The concern arose when the possibility of using auctions of broadcast spectrum as a revenue source in Senator Harry Reid's debt ceiling plan.  The idea of auctioning off some of the analog channels no longer used has been part of the FCC's long-term plans, and resisted by the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters); but the FCC had recently pledged to slow plans and provide broadcasters with some options of retaining some spectrum or getting a portion of auction value.  The concern was that including the auction returns as a revenue enhancement to be maximized would provide incentives to take even more spectrum from broadcasting services.
The NAB reported that their anti-spectrum grab spots were aired more than 50,000 times on U.S. radio and TV stations, and generated more than 100,000 calls to Congressional offices in the two weeks they were aired.  The spectrum auction language was never in House versions, and was dropped from Senator Reid's bill last weekend.  Even so, the final bill calls for further work to identify budget "cuts" and possible revenue enhancements, so look for the issue to reemerge at some point.

Source: "Broadcasters Successful Thus Far in Spectrum Battle," The NAB Pulse

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