Come on in, the waters fine
Bill McConnell -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/9/2000 8:00:00 PM
As FCC Chairman William Kennard sees it, "Broadcasters don't have a choice. You can't stay in the analog world when consumers in America and around the world are waking up to the power of digital technology. It's not a question of whether they would like to wait awhile and delay, or not do it all. Those options are really not feasible."
To make sure TV stations jump in, Kennard is encouraging them to accept buyouts from new users of old analog spectrum and establishing a secondary or spot market to put any surplus DTV spectrum to work as well.
Stations will relish the digital world, he says, especially the technology's ability to accommodate multiple channels or additional services, such as datacasting. "Broadcasters will be able to achieve from their digital facilities multi-revenue streams for different products," he notes. "That's what they have been wanting for decades."
Kennard says it's becoming clear that station owners themselves may not face such a huge business risk after all.
"Broadcasters have such a tremendous opportunity here," Kennard says. They have prime real estate spectrum that propagates well and is ubiquitous at a time when the Internet is migrating out of personal computers into wireless devices. They also have tremendous good will in their local communities and have tremendous branding."
Given the opportunity for flexible uses and the growing number of firms ready to help broadcasters hedge their bets, Kennard says there's no reason for the FCC to rush to the industry's aid with rules on cable carriage and interoperability with cable systems. "We've got to have the humility to let go of the notion that government has all the answers and should protect some industries at the expense of others. Our goal is to get as many players on the field as possible and let the marketplace work it out."
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