STOP THE $70 BILLION GIVEAWAY! (fwd)

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 08:40:49 -0800 (PST)

Forwarding the following from the Benton Foundation for your consideration...

Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
510-643-8566
ghandman@library.berkeley.edu

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 08:50:00 -0400
From: Jeffrey S. Hops <jhops@alliancecm.org>
To: benton-compolicy@cdinet.com, upforgrabs-l@cdinet.com
Subject: STOP THE $70 BILLION GIVEAWAY!

ALLIANCE ACTION ALERT!!

PLEASE FAX ATTACHED LETTER BY NEXT FRIDAY, MARCH 28TH!

The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the Federal
Communications Commission to give current broadcasters $70 billion worth of
federal property for free, no strings attached -- and the Commission seems
poised to make that happen BY APRIL 1, 1997.

Initially, the broadcasters said they needed the spectrum to make a
transition from analog to digital television service. But now, they've
announced that they won't even begin offering digital television until 1999=
,
at the earliest. Until then, they can use the spectrum for other purposes.
Digital television may never come, but the television industry will have it=
s
free spectrum anyway.

This issue is critical for the Alliance because of our interest in
ensuring that federal, state and local governments receive fair compensatio=
n
for use of public property -- including electromagnetic spectrum and publi=
c
rights-of-way. This is not a "TV Tax" -- this is broadcasters paying for a
resource that the government has given away for free. Pushing this issue
now will help us frame the debate for future years, as we push forward with
the Telecommunications Access Act -- and its overarching goal of ensuring
that the telecommunications industry pays for what it uses.

This is $70 billion dollars that could have gone to give all people
access
to advanced telecommunications services, including PEG access on broadcast
television. It could also have helped to educate our children, rebuild ou=
r
crumbling streets and highways, or pay down the national debt. Instead, it
seems that it will be going to Westinghouse, Disney, Fox, and all other
companies that possess broadcast licenses. This is corporate welfare at it=
s
most blatant.

We know you are busy people -- but the FCC needs to hear your voice =
on
this issue. If you have a moment, please copy, distribute and send the
attached model letter to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. The letters must arrive
no later than March 28th, earlier if possible. Therefore, we are asking yo=
u
to FAX this letter to his office at (202) 418-2801. This must be done by
March 28th if it has any hope of being effective. Thanks again for your
support on this important issue!!!

If you have the time, please also fax or mail a copy of your letter to the
National Association of Broadcasters:

Edward O. Fritts, Chairman
National Association of Broadcasters
1771 N Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
FAX: (202) 775.2157

Also, send a copy of this letter to your local newspaper, restructuring it
as an op-ed piece. Because the television industry has failed to report on
its own corporate welfare, most people don't know about this issue, and the
only way to get support for it is through the print media. Again, action
before March 28th is very important.

PLEASE COPY, DISTRIBUTE, AND POST THE ATTACHED LETTER AND FAX BY MARCH 28TH=
!!

----------------------------------------

The Hon. Reed Hundt, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
1919 M Street, Suite 814
Washington, DC 20554

BY FAX: (202) 418-2801

Dear Chairman Hundt:

On behalf of the Alliance for Community Media, fellow users of my
community access center, non-profit groups around the country, and American
taxpayers, I respectfully urge you and other members of the Commission to
delay issuing "digital" licenses to the broadcast television industry until
such time as they are ready to use them, and to demand that television
broadcasters compensate the federal government for their use of public prop=
erty.

As you may know, a number of representatives of the broadcasting ind=
ustry
have announced within the past few weeks that their plans to implement
"digital television" have been delayed, with most industry sources stating
that the spectrum will be used for the purposes for which it was intended n=
o
earlier than 1999, and perhaps even later than that. In the meantime, it i=
s
likely that they will begin to use the spectrum for non-television services
-- services for which the rest of the wireless telecommunications industry
has paid market-based rates at public auction. In addition to giving away
a valuable public resource, this move will also have the effect of
givi=00=00=00=00=00=00=05=DDcasters an unfair competitive advantage in rela=
tion to other
wireless
information service providers.

This is $70 billion that could be used to provide support for public=
,
educational and governmental ("PEG") access to the broadcast media.
Non-commercial, non-profit PEG is a highly successful model for creating an=
d
promoting citizen involvement in local affairs. PEG access supports
distance learning, community involvement and democratic discourse over a
variety of media. Now the Commission has an opportunity to give non-profit
entities and individuals the ability to generate and disseminate informatio=
n
using the vastly increased carrying capacity of digital television. Funds
generated by the sale of digital spectrum at auction could help our childre=
n
and extend the benefits of the Information Superhighway to all.

We respectfully urge the Commission to hold the issuance of these
valuable licenses in abeyance until such time as the broadcasting industry
indicates its willingness to adequately compensate American taxpayers for
the use of their property.

Sincerely,

[Your address]
cc: Edward O. Fritts
National Association of Broadcasters
------------------------
THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR PROMPT HELP ON THIS!!!!