Broadcasters lobby against tech firms’ use of vacant TV channels

What’s more important: broadcast TV or high-speed Internet access?

Not surprisingly, broadcasters choose TV. And they launched a lobbying blitz Monday to prevent technology companies from potentially causing interference on over-the-air television signals in a quest to hook up more people to the Internet.

“Only in Washington would we have to make the case for interference-free TV,” said David K. Rehr, president of the National Assn. of Broadcasters.

Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Intel Corp. and other technology companies want the Federal Communications Commission to let them use vacant TV channels, known as “white spaces,” for a new generation of wireless, Web-surfing devices. FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin and many lawmakers see those channels — ranging from about a third of the TV airwaves in Los Angeles and other major cities to three-fourths in rural areas — as an untapped resource that could boost the country’s poor international ranking for accessibility of broadband Internet service.

“The promise that this spectrum holds for bringing broadband to more Americans is too great to ignore,” said Scott Blake Harris, counsel to the White Spaces Coalition, a group formed by the technology companies to press the issue. Use of the airwaves would be free, similar to Wi-Fi, and the group said devices could share the airwaves with TV stations without interference.

The proposal, which the FCC is scheduled to consider next month, has sparked a major battle between the two industries.

Broadcasters zealously guard access to the airwaves set aside decades ago for television. They started airing TV ads in Washington against the proposal Monday and brought in industry executives to lobby the FCC and Congress. With a federal mandate that stations air only digital signals starting in early 2009, broadcasters said this was no time for risky experiments. About 20% of households receive only over-the-air television.

Though interference causes static or ghostly images on traditional analog TV, the effect on digital signals is worse — the picture breaks up or freezes.

source:LA Times

Peter Koeppel is Founder and President of Koeppel Direct, a leader in DRTV direct response television, online, print and radio media buying, marketing and campaign management. With a Wharton MBA and over 25 years of marketing and advertising experience, Peter has helped Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs develop direct marketing infomercial campaigns to increase profits.

Comments are closed.