Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: December 11, 2009

rooftop-antenna-24-elementAll of the broadcast stations across the country went digital-only this past year and millions were spent in the process by the feds and stations.
NOW, the FCC is taking some steps toward examining whether the broadcast spectrum should be reallocated for wireless broadband. This could, in essence, destroy or greatly restrict over the air broadcasting and could mean that any television watching in the future could be pay-only via cable or satellite.

In its five-page notice of inquiry, the FCC said it will consider “the value that the United States puts on free, over-the-air television,” as well as “market-based mechanisms for television broadcasters to contribute to the broadband effort any spectrum in excess of that which they need.”

This could restrict stations like WOSU, for instance, from carrying multiple digital channels. The WOSU lineup includes The Ohio Channel, WOSU Plus and our primary WOSU HD channel. It will also hamstring our ability to serve Ohio with statewide emergency broadcasts via our digital spectrum and restrict our move into new technologies, like Mobile DTV (see previous post).

The FCC said its inquiry grew out of the efforts to formulate a national broadband plan. “Parties have expressed concern…and have urged the Commission to make available more spectrum for commercial uses,” the notice of inquiry states.

The agency is seeking comment by Dec. 21 on these issues, including which factors should be considered when comparing the benefits of using spectrum for over-the-air broadcasting as opposed to wireless computing. “What would be the impact to the U.S. economy and public welfare if the coverage of free over-the-air broadcast television was diminished to accommodate a repacking of stations to recover spectrum?” the FCC asked.

The National Association of Broadcasters said Wednesday that it intends to file written comments before the deadline. “Broadband deployment to unserved areas is a worthy goal, and broadcasters believe we can help the FCC accomplish its mission without stifling growth opportunities of free and local TV stations and the millions of viewers that we serve,” Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said in a statement.

Representatives of public television stations are also forming a coalition to comment on the FCC inquiry. Of course, there are powerful interest groups behind this call to reallocate broadcast spectrum and restrict free TV.
Our surveys in Columbus showed that over 150,000 households receive their local television without any subscription service.

Some proposals being floated by the FCC would eliminate high-definition broadcasting and multicasting altogether. Why on earth did we spend millions to get to digital television and provide HD and multiple free broadcast services, just to have the FCC come behind this process and take away the spectrum that stations rely on to deliver these services?

Want more on this?

Links to mediapost and Broadcasting and Cable Magazine articles.


  • tigersgrowl

    I never knew about that. Had I known, I would have listened to local radio because my data is capped within the first week due to all the 3G radio I listen to. This will be a great help however, I use the Kyrocera Event (don’t laugh, it was only $20 and I got a mortgage) with the Virgin Mobile service using the Sprint network. I contacted Virgin just now, we’ll have to see if they give me the run around as expected with most phone companies or not. If they do, I won’t give up there, I will consult the blogs and forums. If there is a way, I will find it.

    • Jessie

      @tigersgrowl, I also have Virgin Mobile and they use the Sprint network. I will call them also, but I would really appreciate if you post your updates.

  • Yoga Bear

    “I want my FM Radio! Unlock the FM chip in all smartphones you sell so I can get important emergency information when data networks are unavailable and reduce the amount of data I use each month.

    Thank you. I have a HTC one m7 I have looked and the phone has a FM chip and I have Verizon I have called there tech support and they told me all I need to do is find a radio app, you can’t find one that will work without the net, theses company’s just lies to get you off the phone, so I called HTC by the way Verizon told me not to do that, so me being one not to do what I’m told lol I called any ways, HTC told me that they will be updating to lollipop in a few months and then they’re going to come out with the update that send you a FM radio to your phone that they have been working on it for several months without any support from Verizon Wireless so they’ve taken it on their self to go ahead and make a program to turn on the FM chip so that it will work so that we can have free FM radio on our smartphones, we will see. I’ll give them two months if they don’t do it I’m calling back.

    • Joseph Ogidan

      I had a Nokia phone back in 2008 that had a radio. All I needed to activate it was my head phone, and it worked perfectly well.

  • jeremiah stansbury

    please its our rite we paid for the phone why cant we have fm radio it wont cost you any thing to keep the public informed

  • callthemanufacture

    you’re provider has nothing to do with this they do not make the phones so be sure to call the manufacture the provider does not have a way to unlock this so don’t blame them and give more information on fm chips besides call your provider

    • Irwin Busk

      You are very incorrect. The provider orders the phone with their preferred software load, and with certain features and applications locked. The carrier can provide an “unlock” code, but is not required to by law. many will do so, if you are near the end of your contract.

  • sm spfld ma

    Radio is not a right. I’m all for the chip being activated but come on. npr is using you to push their agenda and getting this activated. It’s a scarf tactic. We all got text messages from the weather service when the tornado was on its way to western ma. Say you did have a radio on the phone then; how many people would put the radio on? I Google the tornado then and got the info I needed. Don’t be fools: you’re bejng used by public radio cronies to get more people to listen to PUBLIC RADIO. It’s a cheap marketing initiative.

    • Mrpockets

      If you are all about activating the chip then why are you urging people not to ask for it? Sure it’s an agenda. Everyone has an agenda. For all we know, you could hold a bunch of stock in Pandora and are pushing your own agenda by trying to make people feel stupid for wanting access to something that they’ve always had. That’s what you sound like to me.

  • Floyd Durham

    I just contacted Virgin and they claimed to have no knowledge of any of this. I was told that basically it probably not real and that just because it says so on the internet it doesn’t mean anything. They don’t want people using it then they loose money for data use….Like the owner of Virgin needs more money..lol

  • Byron Edgington

    What a wonderful, warm and kind human being. Fred Rogers will always be my hero. When my daughter Amanda was four, her grandmother (my mother) died, and ‘Manda was bereft at losing her. She decided to write to her TV friend, ‘Mikkah Rogers.’ The letter went in the mail, and a month later, Amanda received a warm, understanding letter from Fred Rogers. In the letter, he wrote as he spoke on TV, a show Amanda wouldn’t miss for the world. He said the very same people who are glad sometimes are the very same people who are sad sometimes. He told my daughter how sad he was for her loss, and he signed the letter, ‘Your friend, Mister Rogers.’ Amanda still has the letter. It’s one of her cherished possessions. The world needs more people like my hero, Fred Rogers.