A House subcommittee this week advanced the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act, which would authorize a voluntary auction of television broadcast spectrum for broadband use. This bill differs from several previous proposals in the House and Senate by including numerous protections for full power and Class A television stations in an auction and subsequent channel re-packing.
The draft JOBS Act considered by the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee on Thursday would require the FCC to conduct a “reverse auction” in which TV stations could say for how much they would be willing to voluntarily yield some or all of their spectrum rights. It also would protect pre-existing carriage rights of broadcasters that choose to relinquish spectrum rights and shift to sharing another channel. In relocation after an auction, this legislation, sponsored by Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), provides that for non-participating TV stations, the FCC “shall make all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of the date of the enactment of this Act, the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee.” The bill would set aside $3 billion of auction revenue to reimburse broadcaster relocation costs and would prohibit involuntary re-packing from UHF to VHF. In addition, among other provisions, it is notable that this bill would curtail broadcasters’ administrative remedies to protest channel changes in order to facilitate re-packing, and it does not speak to the situation of non-Class A low power television stations.
NRB continues to actively remind Capitol Hill that our association includes a significant number of full power, Class A, and low power television broadcasters. As legislation advances in Congress, we are steadfastly urging continued consideration and inclusion of explicit provisions that fairly honor the services and investments of all Christian television broadcasters in their local communities.