Rosenworcel: Broadcasters Must Have 'Full and Fair Opportunity' to Stay in Business - Broadcasting & Cable

Rosenworcel: Broadcasters Must Have 'Full and Fair Opportunity' to Stay in Business

FCC Commissioners talk diversity, spectrum at MMTC conference
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FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel said Wednesday
that upcoming incentive auctions would be a "big and innovative"
undertaking. She emphasized that the auctions were voluntary and that
broadcasters should have a full and fair opportunity to remain in the business.
But for those that volunteer to give up spectrum, she said, there will be must-carry rights for those who share channels, and compensation.

Rosenworcel,
Robert McDowell and Mignon Clyburn all fielded questions Wednesday at an FCC
commissioner luncheon at the Minority Media & Telecom Council's Access to
Capital and Telecom Policy Conference in Washington.

Commissioner
Robert McDowell, who said he was seven for seven in attending MMTC conferences,
said he hoped the FCC would launch incentive auction proceedings as soon as
possible, but said all the questions about exactly when were controlled by the
chairman.

He
said he agreed with strong build-out conditions for spectrum reclaimed in
incentive auctions. He also put in a plug for flexible use of spectrum,
spotlighting Wi-Fi and its lightning rise from a technology that nobody knew
about to one everybody had to have.

Jose
Mas, president and CEO of infrastructure company MasTec, Inc., who was the
keynote speaker at the luncheon, had preceded the FCC panel by saying that
spectrum infrastructure was the next big national infrastructure project, and
that the FCC had a significant role in putting spectrum in the hands of people
who will use, and to promote diverse participation.

He
called on the commission to expedite the incentive auctions and make sure
diverse businesses are participants in each stage of the process.

Mas
said the government should not put valuable resources in the hands of companies
that hoard spectrum or refuse to build it out. He did not name any names.

Commissioner Clyburn said the FCC should consider new entrant bidding credits for the
upcoming spectrum auctions to make it more attractive to small businesses.

Asked
what issues were on the horizon for commission action, Clyburn cited Universal
Service Fund reform as something she was passionate about. Rosenworcel said the
spectrum auctions were really important because they would grow the economy,
particularly by spurring 4G mobile service growth. The agency should double
down on those kinds of economy-growing efforts. She also put in a plug for
getting to work on a first responder interoperable broadband network, which she
promoted in her former job with the Senate Commerce Committee. She also said
that broadband adoption and deployment are also double-down issues.

McDowell
seconded his colleagues on the need to conclude USF contribution reform and get
spectrum auction proceedings "off the ground." McDowell added action
on media ownership rules, including the diversity portions.

Rosenworcel
said that it is the right thing to give diversity issues priority, but pointed
out that in a post-Adarand world (The Supreme Court decision on affirmative
action), the FCC needs solid data that can narrowly tailor solutions that
survive judicial review. All the commissioners said they would try to get the
FCC moving on proposed FCC diversity studies. McDowell said, yet again, that
Congress should reinstate an improved tax certificate policy to give tax breaks
for selling media properties to minorities. Rosenworcel agreed that the tax
certificate needs to return.

Clyburn
had an extra impetus to be at the conference Wednesday. Her father, Rep. James
Clyburn (D-S.C.), is receiving MMTC's highest honor, the Everett C. Parker award.

FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski was otherwise occupied at a Hill hearing on small
business access to broadband, while a spokesman for Commissioner Ajit Pai, the
first Indian-American commissioner, said he would have been there had he not
had a prior speaking engagement in Pittsburgh, where Pai outlined a raft of
proposals for the commission.

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