IBC 2008 – AMSTERDAM. The BBC has issued a warning on Ofcom’s auctioning of spectrum freed by the digital dividend. Catherine Smadja, a senior policy advisor at the corporation, said spectrum did not belong to the regulator or the broadcasters, but to citizens.
“We should not be taking decisions now that will impact our world for the next 23 or so years, or even indefinitely, because some auctions might lead to indefinite licences.” She added that public policy considerations should put an end to the debate.
Smadja stood back from the argument that broadcasters should automatically receive a significant portion of the digital dividend. She said that no one would argue against the most efficient use of spectrum, but that it was a flawed argument. “We all agree spectrum efficient requires compliance and an adherence of the rules of physics. You have to plan the land, and no one would argue placing a hospital next to a nuclear facility.” She said that while efficiency was important, the final aim should be to deliver public value.
However, Smadja argued against a public consultation on what was a technical issue, and that government should take responsibilities. “Auctions do not always create the best outcome from, efficiency, private value and public value. The auctions as planned by Ofcom will not create the best outcome from the point of view of efficiency.”
There was also a warning against pan-European auctions and the prospect of confusion amongst manufacturers having to make variations in their products for different countries. Guard areas might be needed to prevent interference.
Smadja said the regulator Ofcom had come out against BBC proposals to create a “use it or lose it rule” to prevent spectrum hoarding.