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Hearst Television chief to House subcommittee: OTA most efficient video delivery method

Spectrum is the “oxygen” of over-the-air TV transmission, and broadcast television provides the most efficient way to use spectrum to deliver video content to viewers, the head of Hearst Television told a House subcommittee on the future of video June 27.

Speaking at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing, David Barrett, president and CEO of Hearst Television, reminded lawmakers that broadcast’s one-to-many architecture is an inherently efficient use of spectrum vs. the one-to-one approach employed by the wireless industry.

“For high-demand programming like the Super Bowl, there is no limit to how many viewers can tune into the game. With the wireless "one-to-one" architecture, there is not enough spectrum on the planet to allow every viewer to watch the game on their smart phone. It's simply not possible,” said Barrett.

Barrett made his remarks as the FCC accelerates its efforts to clear spectrum for future use by wireless carriers. His words came two days after it held a workshop at commission headquarters to discuss repacking TV broadcasters into a tighter swath of spectrum, and how $1.75 billion set aside to pay for the expense of endeavor should be managed.

Barrett explained to the subcommittee that future innovation by broadcasters is dependent upon having sufficient spectrum. Mobile DTV depends “on our existing broadcast over-the-air signal,” he said, adding that the new mobile service will not run up cell phone bills or exhaust “the data caps Internet providers are imposing on their customers.”

Three-dimensional TV and ultra-high-definition television are “also just around the corner” and will require spectrum.

“These innovations highlight just how creatively broadcasters are using their digital spectrum now and into the future. As incentive auctions and broadcast repacking is initiated, it is imperative that the FCC’s decisions do nothing to jeopardize our opportunity to bring these new and exciting services to life,” he said.

Barrett also told the subcommittee that new entrants into the video marketplace should be subject to existing retransmission consent and exclusivity rules.