NAB's Smith: FCC Should Limit Station Moves in Repacking


Washington -- National Association of Broadcasters president
Gordon Smith has asked the FCC to limit the number of broadcast-television stations
that will have to be "repacked" after its spectrum auctions.

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman
Julius Genachowski, Smith said such a move to limit the number of stations that
would have to be shifted to new frequencies, or "repacked," after broadcast-TV
spectrum auctions would limit viewer dislocation and ensure that stations that
do move are compensated in a timely fashion.

 Smith also asked that
the FCC give broadcasters "ample time" to evaluate agency auction and
repacking plans. Smith's letter comes the day after NAB executive vice
president and general counsel Jane Mago made those arguments at an FCC
repacking workshop, and a day before Hearst TV president David Barrett will
make a similar pitch to Congress at a hearing on the future of video.

 If "hold
harmless" was the NAB's rallying cry before the auctions were approved,
"transparency" is the new watchword as the FCC comes up with a game
plan for reclaiming and re-auctioning broadcast-TV spectrum.

"It's clear that repacking has the potential to be
disruptive to viewers -- whether as a temporary or permanent loss of
service," Smith wrote. "Transparency will be paramount in protecting
the interests of viewers during this process. The free flow of information is
also critical to potential buyers and sellers of spectrum and is vital to the
ultimate success of the auction."

Smith said that for broadcasters to feel comfortable either
putting their spectrum up for auction -- or with keeping it for the digital
future -- they need to know where they stand with the FCC, a point Barrett and
Mago have also made.

 Smith gave Congress a
shout-out, saying that it had given the FCC a "blueprint for
success." That blueprint includes the NAB-backed assurances that the
reclamation will be possible and that broadcasters' signal integrity and
coverage will be preserved to the best of the agency's ability.

"By actively engaging TV broadcasters as partners in
this process," Smith said, "the FCC can achieve its goals of
acquiring more spectrum for wireless broadband while preserving spectrum
dedicated to free broadcast television for future generations."