Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 26-07-2011

NAB has held a special presentation on spectrum repurposing, pointing to a study it conducted that said that markets would lose at least 40% of current TV stations if the FCC persists in its plan to reclaim free-to-air spectrum.

The broadcasting association adds that between 800 and 1,200 stations will experience viewer disruption as facilities are modernised in accordance with the regulator's proposal for selling spectrum to wireless operators.

The US House Communications Subcommittee will soon consider a spectrum auction bill that would compensate broadcasters for giving up 120 MHz of spectrum for re-auction. The NAB has been saying that reallocation is pernicious at worst and prioritises a less compelling and useful technology at best.

CTIA begs to differ. "Contrary to the scare tactics that NAB is presenting to consumers and policymakers, reallocating underutilised spectrum will not remove free over-the-air broadcast television,” said CTIA’s Vice President Chris Guttman-McCabe.

He added: “We also want to remind broadcasters of two key points in all of the incentive auction discussions, as well as in each of the legislative discussion drafts. First, participation in the auction is voluntary. Second, repacking costs will be reimbursed. NAB's study confirms that even under their analysis, spectrum can be moved voluntarily to its highest and best use, billions can be raised for the United States Treasury and free over-the-air broadcast services continue.

"Even though we are the most efficient users of spectrum, driving high-speed mobile broadband to 300 million Americans, the U.S. wireless industry needs the ability to purchase more spectrum in order to continue to provide their customers with the best products and services in the world. Since spectrum is a finite resource, it is vital that the U.S. government ensures the highest and best of use. Economists estimate that for every dollar invested in mobile Internet, it will create an additional $7-10 for the GDP. This is in addition to the tens of billions of dollars that will be raised at auction. Our members want to help boost our country's economy, but they must have access to more spectrum. This can, and should, be a win-win-win."

Gordon Smith, president and CEO of NAB has slammed the FCC’s plan to repurpose broadcast spectrum for advanced wireless services on an ongoing basis. The NAB chief says that local TV channels have given up more than 25% of TV spectrum and spent $15 billion transitioning from analogue to digital television over the past two years, to support HD programmes and multicasting, and the ability to send video to smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Now, as US regulator the FCC is considering re-auctioning up to 40% more of those airwaves to accommodate the congestion issue in mobile 3G and 4G broadband networks, particularly when it comes to delivering video. That’s a plan, Smith says, that will lead to forcible relocation of broadcasters, crowd channels closer together, reduce their coverage, destroy innovation for viewers, increase interference and degrade their signals.