CTIA/CEA Tell Congress to Proceed with Incentive Auction Authority

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In what they bill as a historic pairing, the heads of CTIA: The Wireless Association and the Consumer Electronics Association have co-signed a letter to Congress taking aim at broadcasters.

It is the latest skirmish in a spectrum battle that flared this week after Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski said the commission had enough information about where spectrum was being used to know there was a shortage; that cable and satellite operators were not hoarding it; and that it was time for Congress to give the FCC authority to compensate broadcasters for the spectrum the FCC wants to reclaim from them for wireless broadband.

In their letter, CEA president Gary Shapiro and CTIA president Steve Largent said that broadcasters should look at themselves when talking about warehousing spectrum. They argue that broadcasters have significant unused spectrum in each market and that even when it is used, broadcasters reach less than 10% of Americans.

They said broadcasters "conveniently overlook" those points in a "frantic desire to obfuscate and delay" legislation creating voluntary incentive auctions. They call on the leadership of the FCC oversight committees to move ahead with incentive auction legislation.

It isn't that broadcasters don't want the government to have the authority to compensate them, likely in the billions of dollars, for a voluntary move by some off their spectrum. But they are concerned that the FCC's idea of voluntary and their own might not be the same.

House Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Thursday that he would look into spectrum hoarding charges in a spectrum hearing next month.

"It is critically important for Congress to exercise appropriate oversight of the FCC, and to investigate claims of spectrum warehousing, the adequacy of the FCC's inventory, and spectrum efficiencies that could be realized through improved performance of television receiving devices," said NAB in a statement.

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