D.C. Insider Dick Wiley at WMS ’09: Broadband Is Top of Agenda

Broadband is at the top of the agenda for the Obama administration and the FCC, with digital TV a close No. 2, according to influential Washington lawyer Dick Wiley, who was speaking at BIA’s Winning Media Strategies.

Broadband is going to be “the big one,” with a special focus on underserved, vulnerable parts of the population, said Wiley, a pre-eminent communications lawyer in D.C. who previously served as FCC chairman 30 years ago. “Unfortunately, that isn’t clearly defined,” said Wiley, but a lot of money –$7 billion — is being thrown at it. He noted that $2.5 billion is earmarked for The Rural Utility Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the impact of making this relatively obscure division a major player in communications policy.

The second big issue for the administration is digital TV, which is finally getting the big switchover from analog signals on June 12 after 22 years of policy development, noted Wiley. Enormous opportunities lie in wait with digital for broadcasters in business, and in regulatory relief. Broadcasters can use digital to extend their core competency in wireless communications and localism, he said. “Here is an area where being a broadcaster is a plus.”

Wiley also said that he doesn’t see the Fairness Doctrine coming back, but that there may be more restrictions on embedded advertising.

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