Kennard looks into digital crystal ball

FCC chairman predicts opportunities for broadcasters

FCC chairman William Kennard told the entertainment industry that it faces a future of uncertainty.

“Everybody is nervous and paranoid. Nobody knows exactly where things are going,” Kennard said in a luncheon speech. But, quoting Albert Einstein, Kennard reminded attendees that “in uncertainty lies opportunity.”

The opportunity Kennard was referring to is the digital future. Acknow-ledging that “the digital transition for broadcasters has been painful,” Kennard urged them to get on the digital bandwagon.

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“In a world in which the broadcasters’ competitors are investing huge amount of money in going digital, why wouldn’t broadcasters want to as well?” asked Kennard.

One of the biggest challenges, said Kennard, is to make the most efficient use of the limited digital spectrum.

“We’ve got to use this spectrum to maximize its use for the American public,” said Kennard.

Envisioning a secondary market for spectrum, Kennard said that broadcasters could possibly lease spectrum space. Another possibility is using the spectrum to enhance Americans with disabilities access to airwaves, said Kennard.

Championing the notion of local FM stations as a means for giving a new group of people access to the airwaves, Kennard issued a plea to the broadcast community: “Let low power radio have a chance.”

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