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Community to Demand Impact Report on Sale of Public Airwaves

Alarmed local groups and Councilmembers say critical public asset at risk

WHAT:          Community Groups, King County electeds to demand a report on the fallout of the sale of the public airwaves to begin later this month
WHO:             King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, Sponsor; Dave Twedell, IATSE Local 600; Nicole Grant, King County Labor Council; Nine labor groups, including the Washington State Labor Council
WHEN:          Tuesday, March 8 at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE:       King County Council Chamber, 516 Third Ave., Seattle, WA
Community groups, along with elected representatives will present a motion to the King County CouncilGovernment Accountability and Oversight Committee on Tues., March 8 demanding a report on the potential impact of the impending broadcast spectrum auction on the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, residents and businesses of King County.
The upcoming auction of federally licensed broadcasting frequencies led by the FCC has raised alarm among the community, council members and labor groups for a number of reasons. Corporate speculators of the public airwaves are looking to make a huge profit without regard to the potential impact such a purchase and reshuffling of spectrum would have on local residents and businesses. Handing such a valuable public asset over to the highest bidder has the potential for irreparable damage to the community that depends on these emergency spectrum airwaves in case of a public disaster.
The auction is scheduled to begin on March 29 and concerned groups believe local stations like Seattle’s KING 5 are first in line to be auctioned off by greedy speculators. These stations are required by federal law to inform and educate the community over the public airwaves. That will all be gone when these broadcast frequencies are sold off to private businesses.
King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove is sponsoring the motion. Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and former Councilmember Nick Licata are also onboard, speaking out against the possible sale of the public air space at town hall meetings last September.
Several labor groups are behind the efforts as well: Washington Federation of State Employees, UFCW Local 21, IBEW local 46 and 77, SPEEA-IFPTE Local 2001, IATSE Local 600, Teamsters Local 117, as well as the King County and Washington State labor councils.