Get your bloody hands off our spectrum!

Dear President Obama,

I wanted to take a moment this morning to give you a bit of advice in your open attempts to steal take spectrum from broadcasting and give it to the Telcos for your broadband plan.

We had a bunch of tornados in the South this week, including some enormous ones in Alabama. Brian Stelter of the New York Times has done an excellent job of covering the local on-air coverage of the storms, so you can see the role that broadcasters played in protecting lives. Many, many reports have come in that reveal lives saved by people watching television meteorologists or listening to the radio. In one particularly vivid account, a group of young people were on their way to Milo’s in Tuscaloosa (THE local hangout — best Sweet Tea in the country) when television broadcasts alerted them to the danger. They stayed home. Milo’s was destroyed.

Here’s a paragraph that Brian wrote:

After the storm, hundreds of viewers wrote on Mr. Spann’s (James Spann, WBMA-TV) Facebook page, where he has 55,000 connections, to thank him for the hours of nonstop live coverage. One woman wrote, “I have no doubt that you saved too many lives to count.”

So you see, Mr. President, you’ve got a problem on your hands. You want that spectrum, but you’re not about to be the leader who led to broadcasting’s downfall, are you? Sure, Twitter was filled with accounts, too, but that’s a very long way from what a simple broadcast signal can do in such an emergency. And let me get this straight, you want us to trust the Telcos in an emergency? Anybody who has AT&T as a cell provider knows the foolishness of that thought.

Now it’s true that some of the live pictures of the twisters came via Internet connections — and those were helpful in getting people to pay attention — but it took the work of a central organization to put everything together and make sense for everybody else. This is not going to be replaced quickly, and you flirt with disaster every time you hint through actions that broadcasting should be treated as second class.

So think twice before you move in where you don’t really belong. Think of the consequences for the mere suggestion that we could live without this.

Thanks for listening,

Terry

Comments

  1. I’m from North Alabama. I’ve gotten through via text to every single Verizon customer in my phone contacts, and through calling every Verizon customer I’ve tried. I’ve not reached a single AT&T customer. They are complete and total shit. I wouldn’t switch to them if they gave me TWO free iPhones and threw in an iPad 2 and an iTouch for my trouble. Not a chance.

  2. I wanted to take a moment this morning to give you a bit of advice in your open attempts to steal take spectrum from broadcasting and give it to the Telcos for your broadband plan.

    “Steal”? The fact that broadcasting had control over that particular bit of spectrum was always just a government privilege, one that they can and should revoke when it’s no longer beneficial to the public.

    So think twice before you move in where you don’t really belong. Think of the consequences for the mere suggestion that we could live without this.

    He has. Your argument isn’t particularly convincing — it amounts to “we should allow the dying industry that broadcasting to cling to this under-utilized spectrum at the expense of wireless providers because of the rare chance that a gigantic storm might hit and require people to rely on local broadcasting”.

  3. I appreciate your argument, Brett. I really do. The issue is how is the government going to protect us when that spectrum is fully “utilized,” as you say? Believe me, I’m caught in the middle on this one, but a day like Thursday brings home fully how much the people rely on broadcasting to be safe. We cannot ignore that. And when Congress takes action to keep broadcast chip out of portable devices, they’ve signaled their preference. That’s scary.

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