Deborah D. McAdams /
11.01.2011 12:00 AM
Sinclair Calls for Spectrum Inventory
The company is air intensifying its opposition to proposed incentive auctions
BALTIMORE: Sinclair Broadcasting is intensifying
its opposition to proposed incentive auctions of broadcast TV spectrum. The
company today called on lawmakers to conduct a full spectrum inventory before
authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to hold incentive auctions.
The commission’s National Broadband Plan intends to reclaim 120 MHz
of TV spectrum through voluntary auctions, to be used for wireless
“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,” the Sinclair folks said.
Mark Aitken, vice president of Advanced Technology for Sinclair said 46 million
Americans rely exclusively on over-the-air TV.
“It is the only reliable medium everyone uses during catastrophes
when the cable goes out and the satellite dishes have blown off
roofs,” he said. “America cannot get this back after it is
sold. Congress should postpone any auction considerations until after a
thorough spectrum audit is completed.”
Sinclair is espousing an alternative to the incentive auction scheme. The
company is proposing that broadcasters provide an overlay service for carrying
excess video traffic when wireless networks are overloaded. This would provide
an ongoing source of revenue for the government versus a one-time haul from the
auctions, because of a 5 percent levy on any revenue-generating service a
broadcaster provides that’s not related to delivering TV
Should 120 MHz--40 percent of the spectrum dedicated to TV channels--be
reclaimed, Sinclair said all nine of Detroit’s local TV stations
would go off the air because of a treaty agreement with Canada. At least half
of the TV stations in 22 markets would be bumped off in the resulting
repacking. An estimated 131 TV stations would be forced off the air, Sinclair
The company says that rather than the “looming spectrum
crisis,” often cited by auction proponents, there is instead
“spectrum management failure.” It says that the 108 MHz of
spectrum returned by TV stations after the 2009 DTV transition remains unused.
The government itself controls the biggest chunk of the most-desired
“Congress should pass legislation mandating a thorough spectrum audit
and formulate a national spectrum policy before it proceeds with any auction
considerations,” the company said.
Sinclair owns and/or operates 65 TV stations in 39 markets.