UPDATED: FCC chairman Julius Genachowski waded into political season during his keynote today at the NAB Show, the annual content confab that hit full speed today with speeches from key broadcast players. Genachowski said that opposition to a proposal that would require stations to post online how much candidates spend on ads is “against technology, against transparency and against journalism.” The FCC will vote on the matter April 27. Such information has long been available to any citizen who takes the time to go down to a station and look through records in person. However, many NAB members worry that putting the hard numbers online could risk giving away individual station ad rates to local and regional rivals, especially in the highly competitive local news market. In his speech today, the FCC chief estimated that total political ad spending could be as high as $3B this election year.
Genachowski also again asked broadcasters to be more open to the FCC’s proposal to create more wireless space though voluntary incentive auctions to free up and repurpose spectrum among TV stations. The plan, approved by Congress in February as part of a wide-ranging tax bill, was first put forward in 2010 in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. The commission wants to open up 120MHz of TV spectrum for possible use by broadband wireless Internet providers. Broadcasters have been reluctant to embrace the FCC’s blueprint to voluntarily give up portions of their spectrum, share spectrum with other stations or make a move from UHF to VHF. That reluctance showed today during NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith’s state of the industry speech.
Genachowski also spoke carefully about the commission’s proceedings on retransmission consent rules, which broadcasters want left alone, as well as the positives of the industry’s digital migration.