What Would Big Media Gain From Selling Broadcast Spectrum?

About a year and a half ago, some broadcast networks threatened to become cable networks due to over-the-top services like Aereo transmitting their stations’ signals without paying for them.

The Supreme Court’s subsequent ruling against Aereo took care of that threat and issue.

Now the Federal Communications Commission wants to set up an auction to sell -- for a good deal of money -- some of the broadcasters’ over-the air spectrum. That has broadcast executives again mulling a move, from a different financial perspective.

So when will networks and stations be ready to move to cable-like wired operations, or t0 broadband/Internet cloud-based content?

Not soon, thanks to the current advertising environment: Even with traditional ratings falling, broadcast stations still can deliver more viewers than local cable.

But perhaps the stations’ advertising results could be even better with the transition to cable or digital, especially with prospect of better consumer targeting.



Others positives from such a move would include the end of regulation from the likes of the FCC,  including language/content issues. That would make it easier to compete with the growing original efforts of subscription and pay services like Netflix and HBO.

Les Moonves, president/CEO of CBS Corp., is concerned that selling broadcast “spectrum may take away some of the HD quality of some of our sporting events.”

Meanwhile, CBS has started a cloud-based Internet service, All Access, with on-demand CBS programming and a live feed from local affiliates for $5.99 per month.

Moonves wouldn’t elaborate on number of subscribers or other business details. And when will such a service evolve from a niche offering  to a wide-scale business?

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