NAB’s Smith says spectrum reclamation was ‘hatched outside of political reality’

Gordon Smith, the new head of the NAB, said the FCC’s moves to reclaim broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband services is a “major policy piece hatched outside of political reality.” He said the graveyard is full of such proposals.

Making his first speech as NAB head to the Media Institute in Washington, D.C., Smith said he has not closed the door to talks about spectrum reclamation but the ideas would have to leave broadcasters with a workable business model.

“When you start talking about 800MHz of spectrum that is potentially worth billions of dollars and saying we’re going to take that for other purposes, and those purposes will no longer be free over-the-air, but we’ll take them for fee service, I think I know how that argument plays out politically,” Smith said.

The NAB chief said broadcasters both large and small have to be able to make money in order to stay in business and continue to provide a public service. “In my lexicon, profitable is not bad, it’s critical. It’s essential,” Smith said.

Smith would not offer an NAB position on the issue because he had not yet seen a proposal, but said that any proposal must “continue to include free over-the-air broadcasting and all of its manifestations,” including mobile TV and multicasting and HD.