Voqal President John Schwartz Leads Media Briefing Call on Upcoming Spectrum Auction

By: Kristen Meador
August 20, 2014

Following up on his recent commentary in Current, Voqal President John Schwartz participated in a media briefing call hosted by The Media Consortium on the upcoming spectrum auction. The Media Consortium is an international network of over 70 leading independent progressive journalism organizations.

In the call, John discusses the background behind the upcoming spectrum auction and the nature of the coveted TV spectrum. The FCC is heavily invested in making this an attractive option for public broadcasters and the consequences of “market forces” shaping spectrum allocation could result in a substantial loss in public television coverage. As John notes on the call, this is a “far cry from where public television came from and from where it should be.”

The Final Report and Order regarding the upcoming spectrum auction was released Aug. 15 and is available on the Federal Register site. FCC rules allow parties to petition the Commission for reconsideration and such petitions are expected. Additionally, the National Association of Broadcasters filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the FCC’s auction rules saying they don’t go far enough to protect broadcasters who don’t want to voluntarily participate in the auction. This separate, but partly related issue further indicates that not all relevant parties are happy with the FCC’s new rules as they stand.

With the preponderance of the coverage of the telecom world focused on net neutrality and mega-mergers, this story is not receiving significant press. Hopefully the reporters on the briefing call will help bring this important issue the attention it deserves.

For more information you can listen to the Media Consortium Spectrum Auction Briefing. Other invited guests on the call were Todd O’Boyle, the program director for Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, and Ravi Kapur, an award-winning journalist and the Principal of KAXT Channel 1 in San Francisco, WRJK Channel 22 in Chicago and Diya TV, America’s first 24/7 South Asian broadcast television network.

Please note: unfortunately the recording is interrupted several times by the service hosting the call and the audio quality is at times subpar.