Smith: Forced Spectrum Move Could Destroy Innovation

Continues to push for voluntary incentive proposal

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith
Tuesday continued to push for a definition of a voluntary incentive auction
proposal that left broadcasters with enough spectrum to innovate, suggesting
that a forced move could destroy innovation and endanger their digital future.

In an address to broadcast standards-setting body, the
Advanced Television Systems Committee in Washington,
Smith suggested that the option of selling spectrum should be reserved
primarily for broadcasters unable to continue to operate their business.
"If a station simply can't make it and volunteers to sell its spectrum, that's
fine," he said. But those left behind to operate their businesses must not
have their future compromised in the process, he made clear. "The problem
is that what is voluntary for the former could become involuntary for the
latter," he said.

He also urged the committee to help broadcasters be players
in the 3D and multiplatform spaces.

While the FCC has said it will need the ability to relocate
some broadcasters who opt not to take the buyout, Smith and the NAB
have increasingly asserted that that would not be voluntary. "It concerns
us that the FCC could forcibly relocate broadcasters, crowd channels closer
together, reduce their coverage, destroy innovation for viewers, increase
interference or otherwise degrade their signals," he said.

Smith said broadcasters weren't resistant to change; just to
change that would leave them with not enough spectrum oxygen to breathe.
"Change can't happen, and we can't serve our audiences, if we don't have
sufficient spectrum. It's the necessary ingredient in the over-the-air part of
free, over-the-air television," he said.

ATSC is working on a more efficient DTV
transmission standard as well as on how broadcasters can get into the 3D
business--their current standard does not easily accommodate the
bandwidth-hungry technology.

Smith urged ATSC to work on perfecting a
workable 3D transmission standard. "ATSC's efforts in this area
are much needed to make opportunities available for broadcasters in 3D,"
he said. "Until those opportunities are available, stations aren't likely
to seriously analyze them or enter the 3D business in a significant way."

He also pushed for a new DTV standard that would help
broadcasters become a more multiplatform player. "We have been talking a
lot about broadband and broadcast convergence in the current spectrum
debate," he pointed out. "The features of ATSC 2.0 sound
consistent with that vision of broadcast and broadband being complementary, and
maybe even having synergy with each other. So I urge you to move forward
rapidly with this program and ensure the receiver manufacturers are committed
to making products, as well as broadcasters supplying services."