Richard Moore

Date:         Thu, 11 Jan 1996
From: Vigdor Schreibman - FINS <•••@••.•••>
Subject:      Dole Statement on Spectrum
To: Multiple recipients of list CYBER-SOC


Cong Rec S135 (daily ed. Jan 10, 1995)

  Mr. Dole.  Mr. President, balancing the budget is all about
sacrifice. To paraphrase Webster's Dictionary, that means
surrendering things we prize for a higher purpose.  Sacrifice is
also about fairness.  We call this share, and share alike.

  It makes no sense to me then that Congress would create a giant
corporate welfare program when we are reforming welfare for those
trapped in a failed system.  But, that is exactly what wold happen
if we pass telecommunications reform in it current form.

  No doubt about it, balancing the budget the passing
telecommunications reform will ensure America's place as the
world's undisputed economic leader.  They are both bills that look
to the future, not to the past.

                        TELECOM GIVE-AWAY
  With that said, however, I question whether telecommunications
reform is worth the television broadcaster's asking price.  The
telecommunications conference report gives spectrum, or air waves,
to telecommunications broadcasters that the Congressional Budget
Office has valued at $12.5 billion.  Many say that figure is low,
including the Federal Communications Commission which believes it
is worth almost $40 billion.  That is $40 billion with a "B."
Other estimates run even higher, up to $70 billion and beyond.

  The bottom line is that spectrum is just as much a national
resource as our National forests,  That means it belongs to every
American equally.  No more, no less.

  If someone wants to use our resources, then we should be fairly

  The broadcasters say they need this extra spectrum to preserve
so-called free, over-the-air broadcast and are just borrowing the
spectrum and will eventually give it back.  The problem is the
telecom conference report is vague and there is no guarantee that
America will ever get this valuable resource back.

  Even if a guarantee can be secured, the report language still
would not fairly compensate taxpayers for lending this resource to
the broadcasters.  From a technical standpoint, when the
broadcasters transition from an analog to the more efficient
digital signal, they can pump out several new TV stations.  In
short, broadcasters will trade their existing one station for as
many as five stations.  I am told the FCC believes the number can
reach as high as 12 stations.

  Interestingly enough, the broadcasters secured language in the
telecom bill that would exempt them from paying fees for any of
these new broadcast stations so long as they are supported by
advertising dollars.  Let me get this straight.  America lends the
broadcasters a national resource so they can increase their profit
margin, but they do not think it fair to pay rent.

  Mr. President, at a time when we are asking all Americans to
sacrifice and we are all trying to balance the budget--I just heard
the chairman of the Budget Committee speak Senator DOMENICI: the
American people want us to balance the budget--it does not make any
sense to give away billions of dollars to corporate interests and
succumb to their intense media lobbying effort.

                        COST TO CONSUMERS
  This policy will also cost consumers billions of their own
dollars.  Federally mandating a transition to digital broadcast
will ultimately render all television sets in the country obsolete.
Consumers will be forced to either buy new television sets or
convertor boxes to receive fees, over-the-air broadcasts.

  The impact will be dramatic.  There are 222 million television
sets in the country.  The average digital television set's
estimated cost is $850, while the less expensive convertor box will
cost about $100.  Replacing every television set with a digital one
would cost $189 billion.  Using the less expenses convertor box
would cost $22 billion.  No doubt about it, consumers won't be
happy that Congress made this choice for them.

  Mr. President, in closing, I wish to inform the Senate that while
I want to work with those who put together, I think a good
telecommunications bill in many respects, I know there are some
Members in the House who have some reservations about parts of it.
I do think we should resolve this spectrum issue before the bill is

  It is going to be very difficult, when we are looking at
Medicaid, looking at Medicare, looking at farm programs, looking at
welfare, all trying to save money here and money there, that we
would at the same time say, oh, that is OK because there are big
media interests, we will give it away, whether there is $12.5 or
$40 billion, whatever it may be.

  The telecommunications conference committee is still open, so we
still have the opportunity to appropriately address this spectrum
issue.  I hope that we will.  I wold like to see it resolved before
we bring this bill up.  I know chairman Senator PRESSLER, has done
an outstanding job.  It is a very difficult task.  The Presiding
Officer is a member of that committee.  It is a very important
bill, probably the most important bill we will consider this year
in 1996.  But let us, for the sake of taxpayers and for the sake of
the American consumers, fix this one corporate welfare provision
before we ask Members to vote for it.


 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
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