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CEA: Happy Holidays! Now Fork Over That TV Spectrum

11/03/2011 10:16 AM

It’s kind of a kind of a good-Grinch-bad-Grinch routine.

The Consumer Electronics Association’s announcement today, “CEA Holiday Forecast Illustrates Need For Additional Spectrum,” is ostensibly about what will be the hottest gadgets under the Christmas tree — but it does double-duty as a lobbying missive pushing for auctioning off broadcast TV spectrum.

According to the CEA, consumers plan to spend an average of $246 on electronics gifts, representing one-third of all holiday spending. That’s up 6% from 2010 and the highest level since the group began tracking holiday spending 18 years ago. Tablets, notebook/laptops and e-readers are in the top five of adults’ holiday electronics wish list, with tablets and computers trailing only clothing as the No. 1 wished-for gifts.

In 2011, CEA estimates manufacturers will ship more than 72 million devices with wireless broadband capability in the U.S., and has argued repeatedly that the country needs to reclaim TV spectrum to keep all those mobile gadgets connected (see CEA/CTIA: Broadcast Spectrum Auctions Could Clear $33 Billion and CEA’s Shapiro: Spectrum Auction Could Help With Nation’s Debt Limit).

“The products consumers want most this holiday all require spectrum to deliver Internet content,” CEA VP of regulatory affairs Julie Kearney said in the press release. “Congress must pass legislation to free up much needed spectrum so consumers can use these innovative technologies without limitations this holiday… Broadcasters are sitting on broad swaths of underutilized spectrum despite the demand for mobile connected devices surging, as this holiday season demonstrates.”

Peace on Earth and good will toward most! But wait, who’s really being the Scrooge?

The National Association of Broadcasters has disputed CEA’s claims, accusing the consumer electronics group of “childish gimmicks and hysteria” on the spectrum issue and pointing out it does not oppose voluntary auctions.

“The facts are these: broadcasters gave back 108 MHz of spectrum less than two years ago, some of which has yet to be deployed. NAB has never opposed the notion of broadcasters voluntarily giving back additional spectrum, so long as non-volunteers are held harmless,” NAB’s Dennis Wharton said in a statement in May.

Meanwhile, another finding CEA called out from the 2011 holiday forecast is that gift cards for digital media are increasingly popular.

About one-fourth of consumers planning to give gift cards for digital music; 20% for e-book purchases; 13% for digital movie or TV show purchases; and 13% for Netflix and other movie rental/streaming subscriptions.

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Programming Note! Don’t miss the Multichannel News breakfast panel discussion at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2011 in Atlanta, Video’s Next Act: Setting the Multiscreen Stage, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, prior to the opening general session. Click here for more info: www.multichannel.com/SCTE2011.

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