SBE Government Relations Update

Joe Snelson, SBE government relations committee chairman, told Radio about the committee's successes in 2015 and its goals for the coming year.
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Joe Snelson, SBE government relations committee chairman, told Radio about the committee's successes in 2015 and its goals for the coming year.�

What is the primary goal of the SBE government relations committee for 2016?

There are four goals for the SBE Government Relations Committee in 2016:

To protect, preserve and maintain the integrity of allocated broadcast and broadcast auxiliary frequency spectrum.

  1. To protect the designation and capabilities of �broadcast engineers� from encroachment or abridgment by state, local and other government agencies.
  2. To maintain and/or increase the technical expertise within the Federal Communications Commission; and to ensure that decisions made by the Commission are based on sound technical investigation and evaluation.
  3. To pursue other such matters which are brought to the attention of the Government Relations Committee by the members of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the Board of Directors, and partners of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

These goals are reviewed and approved annually by the SBE Board of Directors. They can also be found on the SBE website under the Legislative/Advocacy tab.

How can members who are not on the committee help to further the legislative goals of the SBE?

The easiest way is to begin by sending an email tojsnelson@sbe.org. We are always interested in hearing from our members with any thoughts or suggestions regarding legislative issues affecting the broadcast engineer. Additionally, from time to time the SBE may ask members to support initiatives by contacting their government representatives. Member support on these initiatives can make a difference on getting something accomplished.

Looking back on 2015, what do you consider to be some of the committee's recent successes?

SBE filed comments on the AM Improvement initiative. We were pleased to see three of the four areas where we filed comments addressed. The one area, however, that the FCC failed to address was that regarding stepped up enforcement efforts relative to the existing rules regarding ambient AM band noise pollution by contributors such as utility companies and lighting devices. The SBE remains committed to keep this before the Commission as future filing opportunities permit.

The SBE submitted a filing regarding the proposed closure of two-thirds of the FCC field offices. Comments were initially filed by other organizations. After what seemed to be a lull in activity the SBE submitted its filing. At one point it appeared that SBE General Counsel would be tapped to give testimony on behalf of the SBE. Not long after we filed, a deal was ultimately reached that reduced the number of field office closings. While this was not an ideal outcome in SBE�s view, it was better than what was originally proposed.

The SBE GRC was intimately involved in both of the issues above. Like most things in government where the wheels of justice seem to move slowly, or sometimes grind to a halt, we continue to keep �chipping away at the rock� in supporting issues that are of interest or concern to our members.

What challenges do you anticipate for broadcasters in 2016 and how does the committee hope to address them?

The year 2016 will be an interesting one for our television members with the spectrum auction and repacking initiative occurring. In terms of GRC goal number one, we are concerned with the amount of spectrum that will end up being available for broadcast auxiliary wireless services such as microphones, intercom and interrupted fold-back. While the FCC has made some effort to preserve spectrum, will there really be enough to meet the demand, especially for large venues? Use of auxiliary spectrum for wireless microphones affects both our radio and television members. We will continue to monitor this and voice our concerns as opportunity arises.

On another front, the SBE remains involved in the 2 GHz band sharing with the Department of Defense. Again, pursuant to goal number one, we support the efforts of our volunteer frequency coordinators that coordinate operations in the band. SBE will continue to work jointly with the NAB and DoD in working towards an amicable solution for both parties.

As these and other issues arise, the committee will meet and take the appropriate legislative/advocacy action necessary that support and are in the best interest of our members.

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