FCC considers moolah for megahertz

First the federal government rolled out cash for clunkers; now the FCC appears to be mulling over an idea to retrieve spectrum by offering broadcasters moolah for megahertz.

According to an online “Business Week” story Feb. 11, an anonymous source at the FCC says the agency is considering a plan to pay broadcasters to give up their spectrum as a means of averting what chairman Julius Genachowski has dubbed a “looming spectrum crisis” stemming from surging demand for the Apple iPhone, Research in Motion Blackberry and other smart phones.

The source told “Business Week” the FCC has suggested it might be possible to compensate broadcasters for their spectrum from a share of the proceeds of any auction of the spectrum, although it is an open question whether Congress would go along with the idea.

The article also quoted NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton as saying the broadcasters he’s talked to are excited about the prospect of offering mobile DTV and have “no interest in ‘cashing out’ based on a speculative promise from the FCC.”