FX had a celebrity-filled screening of the season-two debut of hit drama series The Americans at The Paris theater in New York City on Feb. 24, and an after party at The Plaza's Palm Court. Click through for more photos.
Intensifying the Spectrum War
As if the battle for wireless bandwidth isn’t volatile enough already, would-be participants keep finding new ways to ratchet up the confrontation.
Even the most well-intentioned suggestions are likely to delay any decision-making, as policy hounds try to calculate the consequences of spectrum reallocation. For cable operators and content suppliers, the battle for wireless broadband bandwidth will raise new barriers to business development.
Among the latest factors is a suggestion from Rey Ramsey, chair of the One Economy Corp. that “Congress look at public purpose when spectrum is being relocated.” One Economy, a non-profit that has supported and funneled funding for minority-oriented Webisodic series such as “Diary of a Single Mother” and “Los Americans”, believes that such socially relevant content deserves an easy-to-find place in the new video landscape. It expects that such programs will find advertiser support, Ramsey said at the Minority Media & Telecom Council’s “Broadband and Social Justice Policy Summit.”
Ramsey’s plea for wireless spectrum that can be used for socially relevant programming added to the renewed frenzy about what to do with the airwaves. Earlier from the same MMTC rostrum, Blair Levin, the former head of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan task force, renewed his assault on the House of Representatives’ spectrum bill, which he called a “long, complicated piece of proposed legislation … [that] undercuts the structure of one of the most successful government programs of the last two decades”: the incentive auctions.
Expanding on his remarks earlier in the month, Levin, now an Aspen Institute fellow, chastised the Congressional plan for giving broadcasters too much leverage in the spectrum auction.
“It’s odd that the House thinks it is in a position today to say there is no conceivable change in the market that would justify any kind of constraint on who would be eligible to participate [in auctions] and no conceivable change in technology that might increase what we want to allocate to unlicensed or opportunistic uses,” Levin said. He also contended that the “constraints in the House bill will limit the revenues.”
His remarks reflected his views about public purpose, which were a core of the National Broadband Plan. And Levin’s comments marked the start of a week-long assault on the Congressional auction plan.
A few days later, his former FCC boss, former Chairman Reed Hundt, at another Washington conference, called the House spectrum legislation “the single worst telecom bill” he has ever seen” and urged that it ” should be rejected, not compromised with.” Hundt’s remarks at a Capitol Hill event sponsored by the Wireless Innovation Alliance and the New America Foundation, focused on the House Republican proposal that would restrict the FCC’s ability to impose conditions on companies that win spectrum auctions.
Also at the Capitol Hill conference, Sen. John Kerry warned that restricting unlicensed spectrum is “unbelievably shortsighted and remarkably self-defeating.” He said that he would like to see the FCC open even more unlicensed spectrum for wi-fi and new technologies, noting that Congress is in no position to predict what new services will emerge that need more unlicensed spectrum.
Back at the MMTC, top government officials also had talked about the untapped - and unknown - opportunities that will be part of the spectrum mix. NTIA Deputy Administrator Anna Gomez emphasized that whatever happens with spectrum assignments, commercial services will have to co-exist with government-run wireless services, possibly in some frequency-sharing process.
And that’s what makes this new round of spectrum rhetoric even more significant throughout the conduit and content categories of the telecom world. As more special interests stake a claim on the airwaves, and as their political objectives are more deeply inserted into the debate, policy paralysis is inevitable - especially in the current toxic Washington environment.
For services - including the expanding cable home management ventures that rely on wireless broadband technology - the inevitable stalemate, along with the heated verbiage, is likely to delay or stymie important opportunities.
Indeed, the battle may become one about whose opportunities are better or more important. That’s a war which everyone loses.
Gary Arlen is president of Arlen Communications LLC in Bethesda, Md., and a long-time interactive TV enthusiast. Reach him at GArlen@ArlenCom.com