LAS VEGAS -- Federal Communications Commission member Meredith Attwell Baker found herself playing a mini version of the old "This Is Your Life" television game show Tuesday during her appearance at the broadcasters' annual convention.
While many of the regulatory sessions at the National Association of Broadcasters' annual show were focused on weighty policy issues, the audience at Baker's session had the chance to learn a little bit more about the Republican FCC member than just where she stands on retransmission consent and spectrum allocation.
After the audience got a chance to weigh in with their guesses, Baker revealed these key details about herself: She was voted most optimistic by her high school class mates; dedicated the Air Supply hit song "All Out of Love" to her junior high school boyfriend and owns six televisions.
After being quizzed on which Air Supply song she chose for that dedication, Baker quipped, "This is what happens when I am the only commissioner who comes."
NAB President Gordon Smith, who was leading the discussion with Baker, wasn't off the hook himself. The audience learned that the former Republican senator's favorite movie is not the classic "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, as some guessed, but the 1980 hit comedy, "Caddyshack."
Baker did get the chance to provide her views on some more substantive issues. On the FCC's proposal to voluntarily reclaim some broadcaster spectrum through incentive auctions, Baker agreed that broadcasters deserve more answers about how the proposal would affect them.
The FCC plan, which must be authorized by Congress, would give those broadcasters who voluntarily give up their spectrum a share in the proceeds from the auction of those airwaves. The effort is aimed at trying to free up more spectrum to meet the nation's growing demand for mobile broadband services.
Noting concerns about the technical challenges that could face broadcasters who choose not to give up their spectrum, Baker said she wished the FCC had focused first on trying to reclaim satellite spectrum. "It would have been an easier proof of concept," she said.
On retransmission consent, the process used by cable and satellite firms to negotiate fees for the use of broadcasters' programming, Baker said she voted for the FCC's notice of proposed rulemaking last month to re-examine the issue because it specifically outlined areas where the agency did not have authority to intervene. "I urge the industry to keep at it so the FCC doesn't become active," Baker said.
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