Broadcasting Service Coalition to FCC: Hands Off Our Spectrum

Group argues reallocating broadcast band to wireless is based on "erroneous assumptions"

Banding together as the Broadcasting Service Coalition, Sinclair, Nexstar, New Age Media, MPS Media and Manship Media, have told the FCC to keep its hands off their spectrum band.

They argue that reallocating any of the broadcast band to wireless broadband would be "terrible public policy" based on "erroneous assumptions."

They say broadcasters are efficient spectrum users and could do more to innovate if the FCC loosened its rules to allow them to better respond to market changes. "Broadcasters can and will provide even better service if and when the FCC permits them to do so," the group argues.  "At bottom, the reclamation proponent's proposals are anti-competitive and intended to make consumers pay for many of the services they now get for the most advantageous price: free."

A number of broadcasters argue that the wireless industry is trying to nip mobile broadband in the bud because its point-to-many-points model of distribution is a threat to wireless' mobile service.

Nexstar, Sinclair and company argue there is no spectrum "crisis" that would necessitate such drastic action. They concede demand is growing, but say there are a number of alternatives, using unlicensed spectrum for example, that would not eliminate a service they call a "cornerstone of American social, political and economic life."

"As multichannel providers pack more and more channels into lower tiers and drive monthly subscriber costs higher, and as more and more 'long tail' content becomes available online, entrepreneurs have ample tools and massive economic incentives to develop lower cost
alternatives tailored to meet consumers needs," they say.  "With the digital transition complete, innovators are eagerly working to enable consumers to more easily access free, high definition broadcast programming and 'long tail' Internet-delivered content."

The groups say that, rather than take away broadcasters' spectrum, the FCC should make changes to its ownership and technical rules, pointing out it is not impossible for a local station to launch a national service or introduce a "game-changing" service in any local market, while wireless carriers are allowed to "adopt new technology, abandon old technology and test new services without disenfranchising anyone."