Jun 15, 2010

New FCC paper supports proposed broadband spectrum policy and auction

Julius Knapp, the Federal Communication Commission's deputy chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology, today announced in his blog the release of an FCC paper, "Spectrum Analysis: Options for Broadband Spectrum." It supports recommendations in the National Broadband Plan that 120 MHz of the broadcast spectrum be turned over for wireless use. "We cannot emphasize strongly enough two critical points that are the cornerstones of the paper," he stressed: Any contributions of spectrum by TV broadcasters for an auction will be voluntary, and viewers will still be able to watch free over-the-air TV. The paper "offers provocative ideas that deserve to be fully vetted and considered," Knapp said.

The paper itself (PDF) points out that "spectrum policy is not easy. Technology changes. Consumer preferences and habits change. Business models change. Allocation priorities change. And this change can be daunting." However, "the benefits of a voluntary approach to broadcast spectrum reallocation may have more upside for all stakeholders—broadcasters, mobile broadband providers and especially consumers—than one might initially expect." It also gently chastises naysayers: "The natural tendency can be to seize on uncertainties and potential negative impacts and thereby marginalize the positive impacts." More about the spectrum auction and its potential impact on public broadcasters in Current's Feb. 8, 2010, issue.

Schiller talks up collaborations at IRE conference

NPR President Vivian Schiller talked about the challenges and rewards of reporting collaborations during last weekend's Investigative Reporters and Editors conference: "[A partnership] will succeed only if it results in good, serious, enduring work. And not if it’s about next news flavor of the month. And certainly not solely because it’s a cheaper model." She also spoke at length about the investigative unit that NPR established in January: "The next step in our ambition is to help our member stations do better investigative work at the local level where so much reporting has simply gone away. And we know to do that we must partner. We must employ digital media in both gathering and distributing the news. And we must adhere to a seriousness of purpose — we’re aiming high and not just for high ratings." Full text of her remarks is posted on 10,000 words. A blog reporting on various conference sessions is here.