No VH1. No ESPN. Sherrie Demonbruen is just fine with it.
"I can get your basic news and weather which is what I need the most of, of course during the day you can watch talk shows, stuff like that," says Demonbruen.
She's among the millions of Americans who get their programming through an antenna, but some of these channels may be at risk. Congress is considering giving the Federal Communications Commission the ability to auction off 20 channels in the Broadcast Television Spectrum. Whit Adamson with the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters says the cost and trouble of moving channels may be the death of some stations.
"The incentive for me is to get our right now especially if Congress will pay me for my time and trouble," says Adamson.
So why would anyone want to risk that? Congressman Jim Cooper says cell phone providers need that bandwidth because of new technology and the fact so many of us are using it.
"I think it would hold America back if we don't use this spectrum efficiently," says Cooper. "We need to make sure we are at the cuttign edge of the digital world."
The plan has some very powerful people behind it too in the cell phone industry. Campaign contribution database opensecrets.org lists AT&T as the 2nd largest political donor since 1989, and Verizon is in the top 40. They're giving money to your Congressmen, a combined $31,000 in this most recent election period. Congressman Marsha Blackburn, who sits on the house committee that's looking at the issue, gets nearly 1/3 of that with $9000 in contributions. She tells us it hasn't bought her vote.
"No I am one of those that is going to say this is what is right, this is what is Constitutional," says Blackburn.
Like Cooper, Blackburn believes the auctions are necessary, but Adamson says that may not be the case for mid-sized cities like Nashville. In other words, he believes the government may auction off spectrum that's not needed here. Nearly as much as the channels that could be lost.
Herein lies a big issue too. For this to work, they'll have to simply take a group of channel space nationwide. They can't pick and choose from different markets. Congress says it will be a voluntary process, but some question how that's possible when there are only 58 usable channels in the spectrum. Let's take Nashville for example. Most channels actually occupy a different space on teh spectrum than their station ID, including FOX17, that occupies 15. If they took Channels 15-35 on the spectrum, that would force channels to move, including us. Rearranging everything becomes really complicated when you consider you want an empty channel in between stations and broadcasters can't occupy the same space as neighboring markets, like Chattanooga for example.
Thursday, February 2 2012, 08:08 PM CST
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