NAB, MSTV: Broadcasters Need Spectrum

Industry groups point to 750 MHz already available for wireless as News Corp. makes pitch for future of mobile DTV

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television teamed up to tell the FCC that broadcasters needed their spectrum and that there is already 750 MHz of spectrum that could be freed up for wireless without repacking TV stations into more cramped quarters.

Meanwhile, News Corp. made a big pitch for mobile DTV as the best way to deliver information to lots of people wirelessly.

They said that the FCC needs to do a comprehensive spectrum inventory (a couple of bills in Congress would mandate that) before it assumes broadcast spectrum is the best, or even a viable, source of more spectrum for wireless broadband. That included submitting a study identifying the 750 MHz, which is more than two and a half times broadcasters' 294 MHz allotment.

NAB President Gordon Smith has said that he is willing to have a conversation about the FCC's inquiries into more spectrum, but NAB has also set out what it calls overarching principles for the broadband plan:

1) broadcasting and broadband are not either/or propositions;

2) local TV offers social benefits that are not substitutable by other services;

3) spectrum policy must be guided by congressional directives on provision of local service; and

4) assurances by the FCC and Congress to the public that they would benefit from the DTV switch with free, over-the-air HD and multicast channels.

Broadcasters also talked about the promising future of mobile DTV and its point-to-multipoint advantages over cellular's point-to-point model.

That was a point also made by News Corp. in a separate filing. The company told the FCC that it has been working for almost two years on a mobile platform. It argued that "Broadband+Broadcasting" (note the two are typographically joined) was an attempt to "recreate the content experience from the ground up," and would require whatever spectrum it wasn't already using to deliver HD.

In fact it spent almost its entire filing pitching mobile DTV for emergency information, local news and weather, sports, TV shows, and for accessing books, magazines and newspapers: "This all can be accomplished through the most spectrally efficient, cutting-edge technology available for the wireless delivery of vast quantities of popular video and print content on a personal portable device: broadcasting."