Genachowski Focuses On Broadband In NAB Show Speech
April 13, 2010 at 12:15 PM (PT)
FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI opened TUESDAY's sessions at the NAB SHOW in LAS VEGAS with a speech that focused primarily on the need for the Commission's broadband plan and the effects of the planned auctions to reallocate spectrum from broadcasting to mobile broadband use. Citing statistics showing the U.S. ranking relatively poorly in adoption and speed of broadband Internet, GENACHOWSKI said that "we're at serious risk as a country" in falling behind other countries in mobile broadband adoption.
While it's not the time to panic, it is the time to plan
"Other countries are not standing still," he warned, noting plans for expanded spectrum use in GERMANY in JAPAN. "While it's not the time to panic," GENACHOWSKI insisted, "it is the time to plan." GENACHOWSKI called for new spectrum-efficient technologies and policies, but also asserted that the broadband and wireless industry needs more spectrum. He promoted the FCC broadband plan's voluntary incentive auctions to recover some spectrum from broadcasters, as well as channel-sharing among television broadcasters, and noted that the plan applies to all spectrum use, not just broadcasting.
GENACHOWSKI outlined his response to what he called "four myths" about the auction plan, saying that the plan does not aim to confiscate stations but instead will be voluntary; the plan would not reduce localism, giving stations aimed at minority audience the option to use channel-sharing to get a capital infusion without having to stop operations; the plan would not prevent participating stations from participating in mobile DTV; and the plan would not require viewers to buy new equipment. He called on broadcasters to "ignore the hyperbole and focus on the real challenges" facing the country.
The FCC, GENACHOWSKI said, will be convening an engineer's forum to work on issues arising from the plan, followed by sessions with business executives.
On other issues, GENACHOWSKI said that "the market is the preferred method" to work out retransmission consent disputes, but he voiced concern over the disputes' effect on viewers; on media ownership, he said that a notice of inquiry for the next rules review is pending, and said that the rules need to preserve the ideals of "competition, localism and diversity"; on journalism, he voiced hope that changes in the business, including new partnerships and foundations like the Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, would being forth a new "Golden Age" of journalism; and he said he was optimistic that new media and opportunities would improve children's programming without causing First Amendment problems. He briefly mentioned radio in the opening passages of his remarks, noting that he was a disc jockey on his high school's carrier-current station and lauding the industry's 10% increase in listenership over the last decade.
NAB Response: Remarks 'Reassuring'
Responding to the remarks, NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON said, "We welcome an ongoing dialogue with Chairman GENACHOWSKI. His remarks on the National Broadband Plan as related to television spectrum reclamation were reassuring, and we will reach back to work with the chairman.
"We also intend to work with the Chairman and his colleagues on the issue of retransmission consent, which we believe is working just as Congress intended. We're hopeful that policymakers will allow these free market negotiations to continue on behalf of consumers, and not tilt the scales of power in favor of giant cable operators."