Don't Forget Broadcasting, NAB's Gordon Smith Tells Broadband-Focused FCC
November 22, 2013 at 3:58 AM (PT)
NAB Pres./CEO GORDON SMITH told a luncheon audience at the MEDIA INSTITUTE's Communications Forum in WASHINGTON THURSDAY (11/21) that he wants to see the FCC undertake the same kind of inquiry into broadcasting as it has into broadband.
Noting that under former Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI, the FCC "became an agency singularly focused on broadband ... despite its questionable authority" over the technology, SMITH jibed that the Commission had become "the Federal Broadband Promotion Commission" and wondered why the agency had not launched a parallel examination to determine how to support and encourage innovation in broadcasting as well.
"While everyone – including me – is excited about broadband and its possibilities – we should not forget that broadcast radio and television have always had – and continue to have – a transformative role in the lives of all Americans," SMITH said, adding that broadcasters' work in emergencies would qualify as "a highest and best use of spectrum."
"Let me freely admit that if highest and best use is determined only by the calculation of dollars and cents, or by how many gadgets and gizmos quickly mount up on the ash-heap of our landfills, broadcasters will lose out in that calculation every time. But, if 'highest and best use' includes, not only the advantages of our one-to-many architecture, but also the durable public values it serves – reliability, decency standards, children's programming, news, weather, sports, localism and lifesaving information during times of crisis – broadcasters win every time."
SMITH urged new FCC Chairman TOM WHEELER "to put as much effort into ensuring our world leadership in broadcast as he does in broadband ... We need a nimble FCC that works with our industry with the same gusto and verve it has for the broadband industry."
His suggestions include reviewing ownership rules "to ensure competition with other industries -- cross-industry competition as well as intra-industry competition" and he praised Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN's move to loosen foreign broadcast ownership restrictions as "an important moment" in showing the Commission "was taking its responsibility seriously to drive innovation and investment in the U.S. broadcast industry, just as it does with the broadband industry."