September 18, 2012
The GOP platform
this year called for a
more “wireless spectrum,” versus, I
suppose, wired spectrum.
“We call for an inventory of federal
agency spectrum to determine the surplus
that could be auctioned for the taxpayers’
benefit,” the GOP platform states.
The DNC, on the other hand, says it’s
“finding innovative ways to free up wireless
The irony about this is that key
Democrats have pushed for a spectrum
inventory for the last three years. Sen.
John Kerry (D-Mass.) first co-sponsored
a spectrum inventory bill in 2009 (with
GOP Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe). He
reintroduced it in 2010 after the National
Broadband Plan was delivered to Congress,
which recommended the reallocation of 40
percent of the TV spectrum.
The bill was voted out of the Senate
Commerce Committee that July, with both
Kerry and Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.
Va.) leaning on FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski for an inventory. Genachowski
assured them that one was underway from
behind a big red velvet curtain where he
pumped the bellows on a smoke machine.
In yet another classic Washington irony,
Congress granted the FCC authority to
hold TV spectrum incentive auctions in the
absence of an inventory even after they’d
threatened not to. Because they are so scary.
Another Democrat, Congressman John
Dingell of Michigan, has been hammering
away at Genachowski for the Allotment
Optimization Model used to come up with
the 40 percent solution. Those familiar with
the process speculate that horse followed
the cart in this particular instance—the
40-percent figure was established before
calculating an AOM, which in turn is being
shoehorned to accommodate the 40 percent.
However, because Congress said no TV
station would be shoved unwillingly in a VHF
assignment, it’s turning out that 40 percent
might be a bit, shall we say… ridiculously
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