Spectrum Audit Needed to Formulate Sound National Spectrum Policy; Spectrum Audit Enjoys Widespread Congressional Support
BALTIMORE, Nov. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The proposal in Congress to auction a 120 MHz portion of the broadcast television spectrum would disenfranchise millions of Americans, seriously damage local TV and raise meager revenues for the U.S. budget deficit, according to officials at Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI), one of the nation’s largest television broadcast groups.
“Spectrum auctions would cause big pain for very little gain,” said Mark Aitken, Vice President of Advanced Technology for Sinclair. “Forty-six million Americans rely exclusively on over-the-air broadcasting. It is the only reliable medium everyone uses during catastrophes when the cable goes out and the satellite dishes have blown off roofs. America cannot get this back after it is sold. Congress should postpone any auction considerations until after a thorough spectrum audit is completed.”
A review of key facts includes:
- All nine of Detroit’s local TV stations would likely go off-the-air under the proposal to auction 40% of broadcaster spectrum. 50-100% of the TV stations in 22 cities would be left without a new channel assignment. Up to 131 stations nationwide would be forced off-the-air.
- TV stations located 360 km (224 miles) south of the Canadian border cannot be reassigned channels without violating U.S.-Canada treaty.
- The claim of a “looming spectrum crisis” is not supported by facts. Instead, the Nation faces a spectrum management failure.
- The entire block of 108 MHz of spectrum returned to the government by broadcasters during the 2009 DTV transition went unsold and now lies fallow.
- Officials at Verizon, Sprint and elsewhere acknowledge there is no spectrum shortage, as claimed by auction proponents.
- An independent analysis conducted by Citigroup found that wireless companies are using only 192 MHz of the 838 MHz available to the industry.
- Nearly 1,500 MHz of spectrum has been identified by the U.S. Commerce Department that may be available for reassignment, including 115 MHz that could be used for wireless broadband on a swift timetable.
- The Federal government is the single-biggest squatter of the so-called “prime spectrum” (225 MHz-3.7 GHz). Federal entities control 70% of this spectrum and the Government Accountability Office has found federal entities are using it inefficiently.
- Countless jobs at hundreds of local TV stations forced off-the-air and related businesses would be at serious risk in what is already a down economy with high unemployment.
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, a spectrum auction would raise a meager $6.5 billion for the U.S. Treasury to offset a $1.5 trillion budget deficit (representing 0.4% of the deficit).
- Legislation to audit the spectrum (H.R. 3125) passed overwhelmingly (394-18) in the U.S. House last year but died in the Senate.
Congress should pass legislation mandating a thorough spectrum audit and formulate a national spectrum policy before it proceeds with any auction considerations.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies, owns and operates, programs or provides sales services to 65 television stations in 39 markets. Sinclair’s television group reaches approximately 24% of U.S. television households and is affiliated with all major networks. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information and can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.
SOURCE Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.