By a quirk of geography, viewers in Detroit could lose all of their local broadcast television channels — no CBS, no NBC, no ABC — and be left with only paid cable alternatives if the Federal Communications Commission follows through with a plan to give more spectrum space to broadband wireless providers, the National Broadcasters Association is warning.
Stations in Detroit, along with other cities along the nation's northern border, could find themselves competing with Canadian television stations for reduced spectrum space if they were forced to give up their current channels. The practical effect is that they would have no home left on the dial from which to broadcast
In other areas around the country, the broadcasters say, stations would have to compete for the remaining channel space. Detroit broadcasters who now can transmit from Channel 2 to Channel 51 on the traditional dial would find themselves squeezed into the space between Channel 2 and Channel 30.
The result, according to NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith: "There's no more broadcast TV in Detroit. There's no place for them to go."
The FCC and Congress are considering reallocating some 40 percent of the airwaves' spectrum from broadcasters and auctioning it to broadband competitors so they can use it for mobile Internet services supporting smartphones, tablets and other wireless technology. The move has sparked a ferocious war between traditional broadcasters and the booming wireless industry.
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