State broadcaster associations have joined the growing chorus of stakeholders trying to drive a stake into any contemplation of turning over their spectrum to the wireless industry, taking aim at the cable industry in the process.
In comments to the FCC, state broadcast associations nationwide spoke with one voice, telling the FCC to "quickly and decisively reject calls for reallocation of television broadcast spectrum."
They point out that current cable subscribers who "decide that the service is not worth the price" have the option of an inexpensive antenna if they want to stop paying for TV.
"Government action that would make the American public permanently and irrevocably dependent on subscription multichannel services would be immensely counterproductive, especially when the government is trying to extend broadband penetration," said the broadcasters.
The broadcasters aim much of their comment at the Coleman Bazelon study introduced into the record by the Consumer Electronics Association. It suggests broadcasters are sitting on a trillion dollars worth of spectrum that could be better used by wireless broadband if broadcasters were paid for all of their spectrum and migrated to government-subsidized cable or satellite service.
The Bazelon paper is an impressive exercise in abstract mathematical "what-ifs," but it has no grounding in reality, say the broadcasters. "As noted above, its assumptions about the price of basic cable service are off by half. Even more importantly, it ignores the critical economic benefits that free television brings multichannel subscribers," saying the option of dropping the service and picking up the free TV alternative is"a powerful force to moderate multichannel service prices."