Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why your phone company hates your local over-the-air broadcaster

A personal note - no, I've haven't written a blog post in several days. Let's just say that I'm spending a lot of time in the war room as of late.

But one interesting tidbit deserves a mention - the, um, war between the mobile phone folks and the broadcast TV/radio folks. The Los Angeles Times documents the blow-by-blow. First, the phone folks:

The Consumer Electronics Assn. and the CTIA (the main trade group for the mobile phone industry) urged the Federal Communications Commission today to consider reclaiming some digital TV airwaves and dedicating them to use with wireless devices. The chief executives of the CEA and CTIA sent a joint letter to members of the FCC, reminding them that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 required the commission to review how the digital TV airwaves were being used within 10 years of the first licenses being granted for DTV channels. Those licenses were issued nearly 11 years ago, so a review is technically overdue (not that deadlines seem to matter much in Washington).

Needless to say, the broadcasters want to defend their turf. And they have a powerful friend:

[T]he National Assn. of Broadcasters has some powerful friends on Capitol Hill. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and still a formidable player, sent a letter to the FCC yesterday expressing concern about any move to devote digital TV airwaves to other uses. Quoth Dingell: "I believe that a further loss of spectrum by broadcasters may have an adverse effect on consumers by limiting their choice in available broadcast television."

Now I don't know the percentage of people who still use broadcast television, but they obviously have some pull on Capitol Hill - remember how the switchover to digital TV broadcast signals was delayed for several months?

Needless to say, this decision will be driven by politics, not some theoretical definition of the merits of each case. We'll see what happens.
blog comments powered by Disqus