The Washington Post

FCC chairman touts broadcast auction plan before skeptical audience

In front of a skeptical crowd of broadcasters, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission pushed forward Tuesday with his goal of using television broadcast airwaves for mobile broadband networks.

Julius Genachowski spoke to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, saying that in his plan for voluntary “incentive” auctions of airwaves, “it’s essential that broadcasters be treated fairly” and that “broadcasters should be fully compensated for any costs of any channel changes, and that any moves from UHF to VHF should be voluntary.”

But the details of such auctions, which are endorsed by President Obama, will make all the difference, NAB’s president Gordon Smith has said.

In Genachowski’s speech, he offered a few more details:

He said no broadcasters will be forced to give up spectrum. And those that choose to participate in auctions will “know exactly what the deal is before relinquishing any rights,” he said in prepared text of his speech.

But he said he can’t promise that every broadcaster will keep their exact channel location. That, he said, would be “unprecedented.”

“It would give any one broadcaster veto power over the success of the auction – and be neither good policy for the country, nor fair to the other participants,” Genachowski said. 

Related stories:

Meet televison’s evangelist, FCC’s stumbling block

Obama touts plan to get wireless broadband to 98 percent of country

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.


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