Alert the Media: CEA, NAB Spar Over Spectrum

CEA's Shapiro says NAB president Smith is discouraging participation in incentive auctions
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Consumer Electronics Association continued to apply not so subtle pressure on broadcasters to give up spectrum to what Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, has said is the higher, better use of wireless broadband.

In the wake of a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention by NAB President Gordon Smith extolling the virtues and values of their medium, not exactly a surprising message to his members, Shapiro sent Smith a letter saying the NAB president was discouraging participation in the auction. An NAB spokesperson disputed the characterization.

"As you know, broadcasters do not legally own the spectrum at issue and have been assigned limited duration licenses," said Shapiro. "Congress was extraordinarily generous in allowing broadcasters to be compensated for these limited duration licenses should they choose to offer them for auction.

"Recent statements discouraging participation in and support of these auctions are not only inconsistent with the goals of Congress, but also are not helpful to competition necessary for a successful and competitive auction," he said.

"NAB supported the voluntary incentive auction legislation passed by Congress and looks forward to working with the FCC and Congress to implement the bill," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. "We would note that just like radio and TV, spectrum licenses of broadband providers like Verizon and AT&T are also of limited duration and subject to renewal."

In his letter, Shapiro pointed to a headline out of the NAB Show that NAB had "declared war on wireless."

Smith did say that broadcaster's adversaries are smart, ruthless and "believe that the best days of broadcasting are over."

But Smith had some support for that theory from the FCC itself. In a speech to the Media Institute last week, FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake referred to Smith's speech, and said it was not paranoia to think the competition was out to get broadcasting, or to get them" out of the game."

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