NAB forms lobbying coalition to act against spectrum incentive auctions

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 03-11-2011

Furthering its fight against what it perceives as certain death for some TV affiliates, the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has launched the 'Future of TV Coalition' to lobby regulators and lawmakers to oppose the auction of vacated over-the-air broadcast spectrum to wireless carriers.
Recognising that there is a looming spectrum crunch for mobile broadband services, USregulator the FCC and the United States Congress are considering whether or not to allow incentive auctions, wherein television broadcasters can offer some of their spectrum for bids in return for a share of the proceeds. Congress is expected to vote on the issue by 23 December. NAB opposes the scheme vehemently, because stations will need to "repack" their signals into smaller bands in order to free up the auctionable airwaves--those that participate and those that don't. This will mean that between 900–1,200 TV stations will likely need to change channels, disrupting service and confusing viewers, at a cost of $2.5 billion.
“What we're saying is that if auctions go forward, ‘Please protect the signal contours of TV broadcasters,’ ” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said during a press briefing.
The NAB isn't alone: another coalition, the Coalition for Free TV and Broadband, represents low-power TV and translator stations and has offered an alternative to the incentive auction plan that would allow the broadcasters themselves to offer point-to-multipoint broadband services, paying 5% of the revenues to the U.S. Treasurer. Such a situation would effectively turn local affiliates into data carriers, who could act as either wholesale providers to wireless companies or operate under a retail brand.
Members of the Future of TV Coalition include Antennas Direct, Bounce TV, the Centre for Asian American Media, County Executives of America, The Country Network, Digitenna, DLT Entertainment Limited, LATV Networks and American Latino Syndication, Luken Communications, MHz Networks, Native American Public Telecommunications, New York Television Festival, Open Mobile Video Coalition, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Qubo, This TV, and Vme Media.