FCC’s Genachowski asks Congress for help in reclaiming spectrum

June 14, 2010

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asked Congress last week to help in reclaiming broadcast and other spectrum for mobile broadband services.

Appearing before the House Appropriations Committee Financial Services Subcommittee on the FCC’s 2011 budget, Genachowski promised to take “full account” of over-the-air viewers. He said the plan would be a win-win-win for broadcasters, viewers and the government.

However, the FCC chairman said the government needs to act quickly in order to head off a spectrum crunch. Congress must approve the FCC’s plan to use some of the proceeds from the spectrum auction to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum.

On broadband, Genachowski continued to argue for his proposed “middle ground” between onerous regulation and doing nothing. He said he opposed extensive new regulations. “I support the restoration of the light-touch regime that we have had,” he said. On June 17, the commission is scheduled to launch a proceeding to classify some of broadband under Title II common carrier regulations.

Opposing Genachowski is Rep. John Culberson, R-TX, who told the hearing that he will introduce an amendment to the FCC’s fiscal year 2011 budget to block the commission from reclassifying some of broadband under Title II. Many Republicans oppose the FCC’s move.

The Media Access Project, a digital advocacy group, was quick to attack Culberson. “Use of the appropriations process to block FCC efforts to clarify its authority over broadband transmission would be disastrous for the future of public access to the open Internet,” said Matt Wood, associate director of the group.

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