FCC backs pubcasting trust fund in new National Broadband Plan

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The FCC’s National Broadband Plan has arrived (background: Current, Sept. 21, 2009) with its advice to Congress for expanding broadband reach across America. The FCC has posted it in searchable form. It advises that 500 megahertz of spectrum be made available for broadband within 10 years, of which 300 megahertz should be made available for mobile use within five years. The much anticipated pubcasting trust fund is indeed included. Public broadcasters could give up spectrum (Current, Feb. 8) and those proceeds would endow a trust “for the production, distribution and archiving of digital public media.” It continues: “There would be multiple benefits to public television stations who participate in this auction. First, it could provide significant savings in operational expenses to stations that share transmission facilities. Second, 100% of proceeds from the public television spectrum auction would be used to fund digital multimedia content. The proceeds should be distributed so that a significant portion of revenues generated by the sale of spectrum go to public media in the communities from which spectrum was contributed.” Examples of successful pubmedia projects cited include WGBH for its Teachers’ Domain, a free service offering digital resources for students and instructors; and WHYY radio in Philadelphia’s partnership with the Philadelphia Daily News on the City Howl, a multi-media civic engagement blog.