The Airwaves: For Public TV or Internet Interests?

The Federal Communications Commission is holding an auction in which wireless companies such as Verizon and AT&T will bid on parts of the nation’s airwaves currently being used by television stations. It’s called a spectrum auction and Todd O’Boyle, program director for Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, says billions of dollars are at stake. “On the one hand, the broadcasters are looking at a big payday, potentially,” he explains. “And on the other hand, the cellular folks are looking at making lots of money building next-generation networks.” […] According to one estimate, the auction could generate $45 billion, and another forecast says nearly 3,500 low-power television stations could be affected by the spectrum changes. Public broadcasting advocate John Schwartz, director and founder of the Voqal companies, says the government doesn’t seem sympathetic to pleas on behalf of public TV. “The FCC is strongly influenced not only by the lobbying power of the big carriers – because obviously that’s massive – but also out of the concern that the most important and most valuable use of spectrum now is for wireless broadband and not for broadcast,” he says. – Mark Scheerer,Public News Service