ITIF says broadcasters that refuse auction should ‘share’ channels

A spokesman for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a non-profit public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., has suggested that the FCC should require any broadcaster that does not give up spectrum for auction to share or co-locate channels.

Richard Bennett, senior research fellow at the ITIF, also said the FCC should be given the flexibility to decide whether or not to hold a second incentive auction because the first one was “botched.”

Bennett said broadcasting is “a dying technology and with only 30 million people watching over-the-air.” Existing spectrum, he said, could be greatly consolidated to one-tenth of the current bandwidth.

Bennett’s words drew fire from supporters of broadcasting. The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband reacted sharply to the assertions that television is a dying technology.

Irwin Podhajser, the group’s chairman, said “the assumption by Richard Bennett and the ITIF that broadcasting is a dying technology is absurd, especially since just a few years ago they were singing the praises of the digital television transition.”

Jim West, president of LegacyTV and a coalition board member, strongly disagreed with the figure of 30 million households watching over-the-air television.

“When one considers multiple television sets in many households, some not connected to cable or satellite, the number of households using over-the-air TV is far greater,” West said. “And, if we consider the future of mobile television, then free over-the-air is primed for a new renaissance.”