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Transcript of Dec 1 PFF Event on Broadcaster TV Spectrum Reallocation [PFF - Thierer]

Transcript of Dec 1 PFF Event on Broadcaster TV Spectrum Reallocation [PFF - Thierer]

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Published by Adam Thierer
This is transcript of a program that took place on December 1, 2009 in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by The Progress & Freedom Foundation (www.PFF.org). The audio for this event can be heard here: http://www.pff.org/events/pastevents/120109-broadcasters-mobile-broadband-spectrum-market.asp. Here is the full event description:
An official at the Federal Communications Commission has suggested that it might be possible to craft a grand bargain whereby television broadcasters get cash for some (or all) of their current spectrum if they return it to the FCC for reallocation and auction. Such a deal could, eventually, open up significant amounts of prime spectrum for next-generation mobile broadband and data services.
Is such a deal feasible and in the best interests of broadcasters? Is the arrangement necessary to encourage growth in broadband penetration consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act? Will Congress go along with the deal, or would it be blocked as contrary to “the public interest?” Alternatively, would lawmakers back the deal but seek a significant cut of the auction proceeds, leaving less available for broadcasters?
This is transcript of a program that took place on December 1, 2009 in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by The Progress & Freedom Foundation (www.PFF.org). The audio for this event can be heard here: http://www.pff.org/events/pastevents/120109-broadcasters-mobile-broadband-spectrum-market.asp. Here is the full event description:
An official at the Federal Communications Commission has suggested that it might be possible to craft a grand bargain whereby television broadcasters get cash for some (or all) of their current spectrum if they return it to the FCC for reallocation and auction. Such a deal could, eventually, open up significant amounts of prime spectrum for next-generation mobile broadband and data services.
Is such a deal feasible and in the best interests of broadcasters? Is the arrangement necessary to encourage growth in broadband penetration consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act? Will Congress go along with the deal, or would it be blocked as contrary to “the public interest?” Alternatively, would lawmakers back the deal but seek a significant cut of the auction proceeds, leaving less available for broadcasters?

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Published by: Adam Thierer on Dec 11, 2009
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10/22/2011

 
Progress on Point 
Volume 16, Issue 27 December 2009
1444 EYE STREET, NW
SUITE 500
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005202-289-8928
 mail@pff.org 
 www.pff.org 
Let's Make a Deal:Broadcasters, Mobile Broadband, and a Market in Spectrum
*
 
Moderated Panel DiscussionAdam Thierer, ModeratorBlair LevinColeman BazelonDavid DonovanKostas LiopirosJohn HanePaul GallantAndrew Schwartzman
 
Table of Contents
*
This is an edited transcript of a PFF Congressional Seminar that took place on December 1, 2009 inWashington, DC. The edited transcript has not been reviewed by the program participants. Speakerbiographies are available at the end of this transcript. The views expressed in this report are their own.
 
Page 2 Progress on Point 16.27 
I.
 
Purpose of Discussion
Adam Thierer,
Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Digital Media Freedom,
 
The Progress &Freedom Foundation
: Well, good morning everyone. My name is Adam Thierer and I'm thePresident of The Progress & Freedom Foundation. It's my pleasure to welcome all of you to thismorning's PFF seminar which is entitled "Let's Make a Deal: Broadcasters, Mobile Broadband,and a Market in Spectrum."The purpose of today's discussion, as our title suggests, is to take a look at the future of spectrum policy in America and, in particular, consider what the future holds for the broadcastspectrum and broadcast spectrum holders, as well as those in the mobile broadband sectorwho covet more spectrum.More specifically, we will be investigating whether the potential exists for a deal to be cutbetween some of these parties, such that broadcast spectrum might potentially be reallocatedfor some alternative uses
something that's been a hot topic of discussion here in DC, as of late, after a certain FCC official, who just happens to be with us today, suggested thatbroadcasters may want to consider some sort of a cash-for-spectrum swap.But there are many questions about any such deal, including, how would it be crafted? Would itbe truly voluntary? Would it be fair to broadcasters? How would broadcasters be compensatedfor their spectrum? Will Congress go along with the deal given the public interest questions thatare over this issue? And are there alternative approaches to how spectrum management mightwork, going forward, should any sort of reallocation occur?These are just a few of the questions we are hoping to explore here at today's session. Nowbefore I turn it over to our all-star panel, I should just mention that we've put a lot of thoughtinto this issue over the years at The Progress & Freedom Foundation. In particular, I just wantto highlight, in case you haven't seen it or read it recently, a wonderful report that we puttogether in 2006 as part of our Digital Age Communications Act Project, or DACA Project, atPFF.We brought together 50 of the nation's leading economists, lawyers, engineers, and otherexperts, to talk about reforming communications policy for the better. And under the very ableleadership of my former colleague, Tom Lenard, who's here today, our spectrum task force puttogether a report on new spectrum policy which offered five transitional options forencumbered spectrum, a couple of which are very similar to what we're actually going to bediscussing here this morning.
1
 So, I encourage all of you to take a second look at our DACA Project and the Spectrum PolicyReport to see what the nine experts involved in that task force came up with.
1
The Progress & Freedom Foundation,
Report from the DACA Working Group on New Spectrum Policy 
 
Progress on Point 16.27 Page 3
More recently, my colleague, Barbara Esbin and I
Barbara's here somewhere, ah, there sheis
put together a paper called "An Offer They Can't Refuse: Spectrum Reallocation That CanBenefit Consumers, Broadcasters, and the Mobile Broadband Sector," which is out there on thetable and I encourage you to pick up a copy, if you're interested.
2
 Anyway, enough of this shameless PFF self promotion! Let's turn to our outstanding panel of experts to hear their views. In the interest of time, I generally dispense with long-winded biosand instead encourage everyone to consult your conference materials for the completeresumes on each of these impressive individuals. Thus, I'm going to beg their collectiveforgiveness, and instead just give you their name, rank, and serial number, or more specifically,tell you the role I'm hoping that each of them will play here for us today on the panel.I've asked each of them to open with roughly six to eight minutes of brief comments so that wehave plenty of time for interaction among the panelists and then some Q&A from our audience.So, here's our lineup and the hat that each of them will be wearing today.
II.
 
Introduction of the Speakers
First, it's my pleasure to welcome Blair Levin, the Executive Director of the Omnibus BroadbandInitiative at the Federal Communications Commission. Blair will be giving us a feel for the bigpicture here and outlining why this discussion is important and why he has actually started it.Second, we'll hear from Coleman Bazelon, who is an economist and a Principal at The BrattleGroup. Coleman will help us understand the value of the spectrum in question, why we shouldconsider reallocation and why it might make some sense.Third, we'll hear from David Donovan, who serves as President of the Association for MaximumService Television. David will be outlining some potential broadcast industry reservations aboutthis scheme.Fourth, we'll be hearing from Kostas Liopiros. He is a Principal at The Sun Fire Group and he hasa background in engineering, mathematics, and economics. He'll be discussing some of thesetechnical and engineering issues and costs associated with any potential reallocation plan.Fifth, we'll hear from John Hane. John's a Counsel with the Communications Practice Group atPillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, and Pittman. John has extensive experience in the broadcast sectorgoing back many, many years and he'll be discussing some of the legal and politicalcomplications associated with any reallocation plan.
2
Adam Thierer and Barbara Esbin, The Progress & Freedom Foundation, "An Offer They Can't Refuse: SpectrumReallocation That Can Benefit Consumers, Broadcasters & the Mobile Broadband Sector," Progress Snapshot5.13, Nov. 10, 2009, www.pff.org/issues-pubs/ps/2009/ps5.13-broadcast-spectrum-reallocation.html 

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