With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) poised today to initiate the formal proceeding toward a new auction of television spectrum for broadband use, a number of voices, including Members of Congress and NRB, are urging caution.
Significantly, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Judy Chu (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski urging that their constituents’ ability to view broadcast television be protected. They highlighted that 23 percent of African-American households, 26 percent of Latino households, and 28 percent of Asian households depend on free over-the-air signals for TV-viewing. They also pointed out a significant reliance by this sizeable group on Class A and low power television (LPTV). Given that, they declared, “…maintaining a robust free and local broadcasting system must remain a priority for the FCC.” These Chairs emphasized the importance of a transparent and reviewable process to them, businesses, and consumers.
NRB also added its voice of caution in the midst of this new auction proceeding. Specifically, NRB took the opportunity to praise efforts by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to call for a comprehensive inventory of America’s electromagnetic spectrum in order to promote long-term strategy for the spectrum. “To ensure an accurate understanding of America’s spectrum needs, a full and public accounting of how it is currently being utilized is a necessary starting point,” said Dr. Frank Wright, President & CEO of NRB. NRB’s release added that in a 2011 public filing with the FCC, NRB warned of an auction's "substantial risks to NRB TV members, including the potential loss of spectrum, loss of coverage area, channel changes, and infrastructure costs."
NRB TV Members were called on by Congress to make significant sacrifices in the move to digital television and subsequent spectrum auctions just a few years ago. As the FCC works to advance this new spectrum auction, NRB continues to urge a process that fairly honors the services and investments of all Christian television broadcasters in their local communities.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations
Published: September 28, 2012