The Consumer Electronics Association wants to collect online signatures on a Declaration of Innovation that borrows language from the Declaration of Independence (and Constitution) to push for reclaiming spectrum from broadcasters.
According to text of a speech CEA President Gary Shapiro plans to deliver at CE Week in New York Thursday, CEA is trying to get signatures on the following document, tying it to the upcoming July 4 holiday. While its title suggests the Declaration of Independence, it begins instead with the preamble to the Constitution. It also puts in a plug for innovation, immigration, trade and other themes of Shapiro's recently published book.
"We, the people of the United States of America, hold these truths to be self-evident - that great innovators drive America's unsurpassed economic success; that innovation creates jobs, markets and industries where none existed before; and that innovation moves us forward as a nation, pushing us to succeed and strive for a better tomorrow.
Staying true to our legacy and our obligation to the life, liberty and happiness of future Americans, we hereby declare that innovation is and should be a key national priority and strategy for this nation.
We urge policies that promote innovation:
We believe American innovators should be able to buy and sell their products around the world.
We believe that more spectrum must be available for wireless broadband.
We believe in welcoming the best and brightest minds to the United States.
We believe in cutting the federal deficit."
Shapiro, who has called broadcasters "squatters" who have tried to "terrify" Congress with their power to demonize them over the airwaves, was somewhat less confrontational in his speech, even saying that "CEA is fine with over-the-air TV if that's what the market supports." But he also offered up his arguments for why he thought the future was broadband. "[W]e have to ask, with several broadcasters in each market, is that the best use of spectrum?" Shapiro already had an answer ready. "Ubiquitous Internet access and broadband competition is a more laudable goal."
He suggests that broadcasters can deliver their signals over cable or the 'net to the dwindling number over-the-air viewers, while collecting a "financial windfall" through incentive auctions for a resource "they didn't even pay for."
"If an overwhelming number of broadcasters take part in the auctions, it doesn't mean their programming will disappear, " says Shapiro, "as pay-TV and emerging platforms could deliver the broadcast content to the 9 million homes still relying on over-the-air. The National Association of Broadcasters and CEA have invested in a company, Syncbak, that uses a sliver of spectrum to authorize delivery of broadcast content over the Internet. This is a way to deliver TV that can free up hundreds of MHz of spectrum and an opportunity for broadcasters to innovate."
Shapiro also used the FCC's recently released future of media report to argue for broadband over broadcasting. "A few weeks ago, the FCC issued a comprehensive report on the state of our media," he says. While finding a decline in local news, the report also highlighted how the Internet has "enabled an unprecedented free exchange of ideas and information." While finding a decline in local reporting, the FCC recommended pushing for universal broadband to help online businesses thrive.
For its part, the National Association of Broadcasters has argued that broadcasting of and for the people shall not perish from the airwaves if they have anything to do with it.