Reigniting a fight that appeared to fade with the passage of spectrum legislation in February, the Consumer Electronics Association Tuesday chided the National Association of Broadcasters, saying it had tried to dissuade members from participating in the incentive auctions authorized by the law.
"Recent statements discouraging participation in and support of these auctions are not only inconsistent with the goals of Congress, but also are not helpful to competition necessary for a successful and competitive auction," CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro wrote in a terse letter Tuesday to NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith.
Shapiro sent his latest missive in response to comments Smith made at the NAB's annual show in Las Vegas last month. Smith told reporters at the show that he hasn't seen much interest from TV stations in participating in the incentive auctions authorized by the spectrum legislation, which was passed in February as part of a payroll-tax cut package. The auction plan starts with reverse auctions, in which broadcasters may offer bids for how much they would be willing to take to sell some or all of their spectrum for auction to wireless providers.
Shapiro noted that broadcasters don't own their spectrum."Congress was extraordinarily generous in allowing broadcasters to be compensated for these limited duration licenses should they choose to offer them for auction," he said.
The NAB shot back that wireless firms are subject to license renewals just like broadcasters. "NAB supported the voluntary incentive auction legislation passed by Congress and looks forward to working with the FCC and Congress to implement the bill," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.
The latest spat is part of a long-running war of words between CEA and the NAB. While CEA argues that broadcasters are under-utilizing valuable spectrum, NAB has questioned the wireless industry's claims that it's facing a spectrum "crisis."
The latest feud broke out on the same day that the wireless industry group CTIA released a report touting the importance of the wireless industry to the U.S. economy.