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10.27.2008
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
New industry proposal would kill over-the-air television

A major think tank last week called on the FCC to completely eliminate free over-the-air television and make all channels available for broadband services.

At a conference held by the New America Foundation and Google at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA, Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Program at the New America Foundation, said we should “take TV off the air“ in a few years and replace it entirely with cable, satellite and Internet viewing.

“All channels should be available by broadband, with the government possibly subsidizing cable and satellite providers to deliver free Lifeline service,” Calabrese said.

The New America Foundation advocates wireless broadband access in “underutilized government and even commercial bands” by promoting the use of cognitive radio to prevent interference.

“Let smart radios operate around the dinosaurs,” Calabrese said. “This may call for the use of micropayments or ‘microauctions’ for the benefit of licensees.”

Paul Kolodny, former chairman of the FCC Spectrum Policy Task Force, said, “the white spaces are going to be at the forefront of showing that these technologies actually work.” He cited the upper 700 MHz, AWS-3, BRS, UNII and 3.5GHz bands as other targets. One project proposes the Earth Exploration Satellite Service, which would constantly switch spectrum to allow downloads, he said.

“Neither Congress nor the Commission has adopted the position that the FCC should administer euthanasia to the public’s over-the-air service,” wrote the NAB, the Association for Maximum Service Television, and the major broadcast networks to the FCC after the conference. “It is absolutely critical for the Commission to protect the public’s free, over-the-air broadcasting service not just from interference from white spaces devices but from a movement to totally eliminate television broadcasting.”



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