Combatants jointly oppose broadcast spectrum fees

They disagree on almost everything else, but broadcasters and wireless companies do agree on one thing: neither wants new government-imposed spectrum fees.

In a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, NAB, broadcasters’ main lobbyist, and CTIA, the wireless industry’s support organization, asked the super committee in Congress to stop an FCC/Obama administration proposal to impose fees on some spectrum holders.

The White House proposal, part of the administration’s jobs bill sent to Congress last month, calls for giving the FCC authority to charge wireless companies, radio broadcasters, satellite firms and others who buy spectrum at auctions when they renew licenses. The proposal is projected to raise $4 billion over 10 years but would exempt television broadcasters and government spectrum users.

“This legislation ignores the considerable annual regulatory fees already borne by our respective industries and the tens of billions of dollars in private capital expended annually by wireless, satellite and commercial, non-commercial and public radio operators alike to build networks and invest in the infrastructure necessary to serve the American public,” said NAB CEO Gordon Smith and CTIA CEO Steve Largent, as well as the heads of three other groups affected by the White House proposal.

The other groups signing on were the National Religious Broadcasters, the Satellite Industry Association and the Wireless Infrastructure Foundation.

Asserting that both broadcasters and wireless companies are “extremely efficient” in their use of spectrum, the groups add that they “do not believe ... that the solution to unemployment lies in the imposition of new fees and taxes that will inevitably shift money from much needed capital investment in state-of-the-art communications …”

The roles are reversed in this situation for NAB and CTIA. The two groups have long battled over a proposal backed by wireless operators to free up more spectrum for wireless broadband by enticing broadcasters to give up some of their airwaves for auction.