Response to House spectrum split reveals party alliances

The NAB came out in support of the House Republican legislation, failing to mention the Democratic version in a statement.

The NAB's president, Gordon Smith, a former Republican senator, said "Chairman Walden's bill represents a major step forward in ensuring that local television stations will continue to be able to serve our vast and diverse audiences with local news, entertainment, sports and emergency weather information. Our position remains unchanged since this debate began: NAB has no quarrel with voluntary spectrum auctions so long as nonvolunteer broadcasters and our viewers are not punished."

Walden said he was disappointed there was no bipartisan legislation after a year of hearings and negotiations. "But for the sake of the economy and public safety, we need to take the best ideas, which are represented in the JOBS Act, and move forward with a subcommittee vote on Thursday," he said. "No party, special interest or lobby gets everything they want in this legislation. But for the American people, it delivers on three important goals for the country: job creation, a nationwide public safety network and deficit reduction."

The Democratic bill was sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Communications Subcommittee.

"While there continue to be key policy differences with the approach taken by the majority, I remain hopeful that Thursday's subcommittee markup will provide an opportunity to debate these differences and finally reach a bipartisan compromise," Waxman said.

The Wireless Communications Association International, responding to both bills, was pleased to have movement on any legislation to free up spectrum. "WCAI applauds House leadership for their efforts to move forward with spectrum legislation this year. Making additional spectrum available for mobile broadband will meet consumer demand for mobile services, produce jobs and promote public safety," it said in a release.

Two major consumer groups supported the Democratic version of the legislation. "The Waxman/Eshoo bill clearly shows how we can have both a robust incentive auction for licensed use and sufficient spectrum for TV white spaces and other cutting edge technologies made possible with unlicensed spectrum," said Harold Feld of Public Knowledge. "This approach reduces the deficit, provides licensed and unlicensed wireless capacity for our digital future, and builds out a national wireless public safety network. It is win-win-win, and Republicans should say yes-yes-yes."

Andrew Jay Schwartzman at the Media Access Project said talk about "unlicensed spectrum" may "sound like techno-mumbo jumbo to most Americans, but the Waxman/Eshoo bill means will jumpstart a new generation of super-Wi-Fi technologies that can transform American business, education and the arts."