by Derek Kerton

Filed Under:

TV Broadcasters Never Need Return Their Redundant Spectrum???

Anyone want to get angry? Then read on. The US Senate is considering an amendment to the current rules that will require TV Broadcasters to return the redundant portion of their spectrum that results from their transition to digital broadcasts. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), has proposed an amendment that would allow broadcasters to return the spectrum...never. Remember that the broadcasters are sitting on hordes of frequencies, which the country is wastefully using to broadcast analog (1940's) technology signals to the 10-15% of TV watchers who still use OTA antennas for TV (cable and satellite customers have no need for the broadcast TV signals). The spectrum that will be freed when they transition to digital would be a boon to the US citizenry when it is re-applied for service as public safety, wireless broadband, unlicensed, and hundreds of other uses. The low frequencies in question travel about three times further than the 1,900MHz we use for most cellular service. However, if not re-possessed by the FCC, the signals will provide all that value to the TV broadcasters, who will sell or lease those spectrum rights for what we politely call a freakin' fortune. Is that just a fair return on their investment in these frequency rights? No quite, since they never paid a single dime for the rights! If it sounds like the citizens are getting screwed, you're right. It may not come as a huge surprise that Senator Burns is a former broadcast executive, so is he representing the best interests of the US people, his constituency, or is he working on behalf of his broadcast buddies and their wealthy lobby? Please have a look at this US Frequency Allocation Chart, and note the blue bands that represent TV broadcast spectrum. Cellular carriers pay billions upon billions for slivers of this chart, while the broadcasters got their rights to huge swaths for free. Mike adds: This particular amendment is to the bill we discussed earlier this week.

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