Congress joins the spectrum debate

Says reallocation to mobile firms would have 'adverse effect'

The Federal Communications Commission's proposal to reallocate some of the spectrum now held by TV broadcasters to mobile communications companies has caught the attention of Congress. In a letter to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, took up the position of broadcasters that the broadband plan being floated by the FCC was not a good idea.

The idea floated by the FCC would cut into TV broadcast spectrum, potentially putting an end to multicast channels and mobile digital broadcast.

Broadcasters have already given up one-third of their spectrum to the Federal government as part of the digital transition, Dingell noted in his Nov. 16 letter. "I believe that a further loss of spectrum by broadcasters may have an adverse effect upon consumers by limiting their choice available in broadcast television," he wrote.

Dingell, as well as a number of broadcasters and the National Association of Broadcasters, which last week filed comments with the FCC on the matter argue that the FCC can meet its obligations for a national broadband plan without sacrificing free, over-the-air, local broadcasting.