Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: February 24, 2010

As a followup to some previous blogs. The anticipated announcement came today from the FCC Chair that he believes could help broadcasters and expand the capabilities of broadband. The FCC plans to give broadcasters a chance to turn in their spectrum in exchange for an auction pay-off.

As reported in Broadcasting & Cable online today — FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said today that, as part of the national broadband plan, the FCC will propose a voluntary “Mobile Future Auction” that will permit TV broadcasters and other licensees to give up spectrum in exchange for a share of the proceeds.
That came in a speech to the New America Foundation Wednesday as the FCC continues to unveil various portions of the broadband plan, due to Congress March 17.

“The Mobile Future Auction would allow broadcasters to elect to participate in a mechanism that could save costs for broadcasters while also being a major part of the solution to one of our country’s most significant challenges.” The FCC has been talking about a market-based incentive to get some broadcasters–he said specifically ones in “spectrum-starved markets” to give up their spectrum for wireless reallocation.

This will lead to some interesting discussions by both commercial and public broadcasters. Like most non-commercial stations, WOSU will have to weigh the value of all its over-the-air broadcasts in serving central and southern Ohio compared to a potential windfall (of which we know nothing at this point) that would help us support more local services for our primary channel, online and in other ways. For stations, this permanent decision could result in the reduction of the number of channels provided or shelving any mobile digital TV or other future plans of service.