Broadcasters brought in a former United Nations ambassador on Tuesday to help make their case to policy makers that the future of broadcasting is bright, growing and should be preserved.
Former U.N. Ambassador, ex-Atlanta Mayor and civil rights leader Andrew Young was on hand as the National Association of Broadcasters launched their Future of Television coalition.Their case has grown more important as the industry grapples with calls for broadcasters to voluntarily give up some of their spectrum to help meet growing demand for wireless technologies.
Congress is weighing legislation to authorize incentive auctions, in which broadcasters would give up some of their airwaves and get cash from the proceeds. Broadcasters worry that television stations that opt out could be harmed if they are forced to move to a different place on the TV band in order to clear out a chunk of space that can be auctioned to wireless providers.
"We're trying to reassert ourselves in the debate with the Future of Television Coalition," NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said during a news conference Tuesday. "It's enormously important for the American people to understand that while they have the blessing of taking broadcast television for granted, there are decisions that could be made that could take that away from them."
The coalition argues that broadcasting is far from a dying industry and that more Americans are dropping their subscription-based television services such as cable and satellite and returning to over-the-air broadcasting. At the same time, they note that the transition from analog to digital TV has allowed broadcasters to roll out mobile digital television and offer additional channels with even more free programming including content for minority communities, which tend to rely on over-the-air television more than other groups.
The coalition includes mobile television providers, digital antenna makers and new broadcast networks offering content for some of the digital channels being simulcast by TV stations, including Bounce TV co-founded by Young and others.