National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith
has asked the FCC to limit the number of stations that will have to be repacked
after its spectrum auctions.
In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, Smith said
that would limit viewer dislocation and ensure that stations that do move are
compensated in a timely fashion.
Smith also asked that the FCC give broadcasters "ample
time" to evaluate FCC auction and repacking plans. Smith's letter comes
the day after NAB exec Jane Mago made those arguments at an FCC repacking
workshop, and a day before Hearst TV President David Barrett will make a
similar pitch to Congress at a future of video hearing.
If "hold harmless" was the NAB rallying cry before
the auctions were approved, "transparency" is the new watchword as
the FCC comes up with a game plan for reclaiming and re-auctioning spectrum.
"It's clear that repacking has the potential to be
disruptive to viewers - whether as a temporary or permanent loss of
service," he writes. "Transparency will be paramount in protecting
the interests of viewers during this process. The free flow of information is
also critical to potential buyers and sellers of spectrum and is vital to the
ultimate success of the auction."
That is because for broadcasters to feel comfortable either
putting their spectrum up for auction, or keeping it for the digital future,
they need to know where they stand with the FCC, a point Barrett and Mago also
Smith gave Congress a shout-out, saying that it had given
the FCC a "blueprint for success." That blueprint includes the
NAB-backed assurances that the reclamation will be possible and broadcasters
signal integrity and coverage will be preserved to the best of the FCC's
"By actively engaging TV broadcasters as partners in
this process," said Smith, "the FCC can achieve its goals of
acquiring more spectrum for wireless broadband while preserving spectrum
dedicated to free broadcast television for future generations."