CBS says it won't sell its spectrum at auction

May 5, 2011

Ever since the president announced his National Broadband Plan would need spectrum from stations, all eyes have been on the industry to see who would take the bait and trade their allotted spectrum for cash. Well, we now know one broadcaster that isn't biting.

The CBS Network has told the FCC it will not sell its spectrum at auction nor does it plan to share it with other stations. This came in comments to the commission on channel sharing, spectrum repacking and improving VHF transmission.

"CBS does not intend to participate in the incentive auctions that are being proposed as a means for reallocating spectrum away from broadcasters," the network told the FCC. It also expects its stations to continue using their "allotted 6MHz."

The network said it "appreciated" FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's adoption of the proceeding to place spectrum issues front and center on the national agenda. But the network said unequivocally it plans to continue in the broadcasting business, at least at the same level of service it provides now.

CBS echoed other broadcasters' demands that the reclamation/spectrum auction proposal be voluntary and placed an emphasis on the FCC making sure those broadcasters left behind are still in control of their own destiny. However, the network didn't engage in the harsh language of some other broadcast group owners who claimed the proposal should be withdrawn because it is illegal.

Any "repacking" from the UHF to VHF band must be voluntary, CBS said. However, moving stations to new spectrum to free up larger contiguous blocks for wireless broadband is OK, if the FCC "provide[s] each broadcaster with a replicated coverage area, in terms of both geography and population; any costs of moving are paid for by the auction proceeds; and the FCC engages in an educational campaign along with broadcasters to ensure that American viewers know where to find their relocated TV station."

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