Gordon Smith, president and CEO of NAB, has told broadcasters at the NAB convention they need to urgently develop a new standard that will allow FTA broadcast to prosper in the multi-screen world. Smith said broadcasters were finding it hard to trust the FCC, even after it had followed the rules. “The FCC must work collaboratively with broadcasters,” he said.
Smith said that while the convergence of broadcast and broadband continues broadcasters are “uniquely tied to the people they serve” and “serve a public interest.” He added that the wireless industry covets broadcasters’ spectrum in order to use it to deliver video.
Smith said government needed to remove barriers that would enable broadcasters to be competitive. Regulators need to come up with a “national broadcast plan” and update regulations, for example, covering the sharing of advertising between local broadcasters, he said. “A national broadcast plan would capitalise on broadcast TV’s one-to-many architecture. This enquiry is critical. If consumers want access to large live events broadcast must be a part of the solution.”
Smith said that the US Federal Telecommunications Act needed to be looked at again to give more freedom to broadcasters and argued that the latter could serve as a necessary check on the power of large cable and wireless companies.
Referring the the FCC’s plan for an ‘incentive auction’ whereby broadcasters would be incentivised to relinquish their existing spectrum in exchange for less desirable spectrum with a smaller coverage zone, or to share a digital channel with another broadcast licence holder, thereby allowing more capacity to be freed up for wireless broadband applications, Smith said that those on low incomes, minorities and senior citizens would be disenfranchised if spectrum is allocated to wireless in the future.
“Ours is the only industry in the incentive auction that can end up worse off,” he said. He accused the FCC of double standards, on one hand preventing broadcasters from forming partnerships to sell advertising while on the other encouraging them to share bandwidth.