Congress: TV stations to give up more spectrum
The New York Times leads this morning with the plan passed out of a committee in Congress that will pay for a extension of the payroll tax cut, additional unemployment benefits, and maintaining higher Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors by selling off more of the public airwaves, mostly spectrum from TV stations. That spectrum will be sold to broadband carriers like AT&T and Verizon to expand the network, which due to smartphones and tablets is being taxed to a large degree in the US’s biggest cites.
In addition, money will be invested in a nationwide communications network for emergency responders, who have been clamoring for a more robust and compatible system since the 9/11 attacks.
Broadcasters will get compensated for releasing licensed spectrum, to the tune of $1.75 billion, with other protective provisions that prompted the NAB’s President & CEO Gordon Smith to say:
NAB salutes the tireless efforts of Congress to ensure that local broadcasters have a vibrant and robust future. Special thanks go to Chairmen Upton and Walden for steering this bill to conclusion, and to Reps. Dingell and Bilbray for a critically important amendment guaranteeing continued viewer access to TV station signals along the Canadian and Mexican borders.
Tens of millions of Americans rely every day on local TV broadcasters for news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather warnings. We look forward to working with Congress and the FCC to implement an incentive auction program that does not jeopardize that service.
Smith is referring to a provision that requires the FCC to frequency coordinate with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts before putting packing stations in markets like Erie along the northern or southern borders.
FCC Chair Julius Genachowski has been pushing for this move for two years, citing what the paper says “he called inefficiently used airwaves from broadcasters.”