Originally published: April 7, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:38am
Television broadcasters are getting ready for a fight over a US government attempt to redistribute airwaves and help wireless carriers cope with a surge in traffic from bandwidth-guzzling devices like the iPhone.
Ion Media Networks, the biggest local TV station owner, and at least three others are resisting a Federal Communications Commission plan to take back spectrum awarded to them by the government and auction it to carriers. About 500 broadcasters went to Capitol Hill this month to lobby members of the House and Senate, and they plan more in the weeks ahead. Ion, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group and LIN TV say they're depending on that spectrum so they can offer live TV via mobile phones. The FCC says carriers such as AT&T Inc. need the airwaves more as smartphones like Apple Inc.'s iPhone cause the amount of data sent through U.S. networks to more than double annually.
"Why is the iPhone entitled to more spectrum than local broadcasters?" said Nexstar Chief Executive Officer Perry Sook, whose Irving, Texas-based company owns or provides services to 62 stations. "When the snowstorm hit Washington, did people rush to an iPhone app to find out what was going on? No, they turned to their local broadcasters."
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