Powell Still Trying To Get Broadcasters To Step Off

Here’s a reality show TV broadcasters should make: “Who wants to give America back its spectrum?” We could ask progressively tough questions, like: Which industry was given its spectrum rights for free? Which mature technology would reduce the amount of spectrum required to broadcast TV signals? and What would America do with the redundant spectrum? Want a lifeline? Well the answer to the first is TV, the second is Digital TV, and the third is: America would extract a lot more social value from the returned spectrum. The spectrum made available if broadcasters moved to digital broadcasts could be used for emergency services, national security, unlicensed radio uses (like WiFi), wireless broadband services, and much more. But the broadcasters don’t want to give it back, so they’re dragging their heels and (successfully) lobbying senate commerce committees to meet their goals. In the meantime, the spectrum delivers little value to America, except for those poor souls who watch TV channels above 50 from over-the-air antennas.FCC Chairman Powell is trying to change some legal definitions which would set a firm deadline of Jan. 1 2009 for TV broadcasters to vacate their analog frequencies, but this is a tough fight to win, since it is complex, and the TV lobbies are very well funded. Kudos to Senator John McCain and Powell, though, for working on behalf of the people instead of the lobbies.

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