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White Noise When it comes to how the Federal Com-munications Commission should treat “white spaces,” the frequency buffer zones that separate television channels, broadcasters and tech companies aren’t seeing much of a gray area. As the fall term begins, lobbying is heating up over those slivers of spectrum, which could be worth billions to tech companies. But getting access to them requires FCC approval. Opposed to that approval is the National Association of Broadcasters, which fears devices using white space would disrupt the digital television signals the industry is slated to adopt beginning in 2009. The FCC finished its testing for prototype white-space devices in late July. No hearings are in the works on the issue, and the FCC has given itself only a loose deadline of making a decision by the end of October. In the weeks before then, the White Spaces Coalition, made up of giants like Microsoft, Google, and Philips, appears to believe discretion is the better part of valor. The coalition has no official spokesperson, and a representative for one member says it isn’t focusing on formal lobbying. The broadcasters association has taken a more visible approach. The organization says unauthorized white-space devices would be a disaster for both over-the-air TV and wireless microphones and sound equipment. “Our very business is at stake if these devices get introduced, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve taken a high profile on this,” says NAB communications director Dennis Wharton. Any suggestion that the NAB’s opponents aren’t lobbying hard “doesn’t pass the laugh test,” he says. The association is holding a press conference Sept. 10 and has launched an ad campaign featuring a digitally dissolving baseball game and a warning that TV interference would be “impossible to stop.” Scott Harris, managing partner of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis and the White Spaces Coalition’s counsel, counters that its members can already build devices capable of avoiding other broadcast signals. The only real question, he says, is how to set the sensitivity and power of such devices. “There is room for intelligent debate there. This ad campaign is not that intelligent debate,” Harris says of the NAB’s handiwork. “I think personal and portable devices are likely to be authorized based on the record, and I think their advertising is an attempt to deflect that.” But the NAB’s research arm, the Association for Maximum Service Television, has put a lot of work into rebutting claims that white-space devices are harmless. “The technology does not work,” says the group’s president, David Donavan. � Jeff Horwitz
Craig Contributors Calls for the resignation of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) have been deafening over the past week or so. Republican leaders have clamored for an ethics investigation, and many prominent Idahoans have said Craig should step down in the wake of his Minneapolis arrest and guilty plea. Craig, under pressure, announced that he intended to resign as of Sept. 30. Since then, though, he has said he might reconsider that decision and has hired lawyers to explore withdrawing his plea. (Stay tuned.) But what do his contributors think of the scandal? To date, most have said as little as possible. Some major contributors � including Idaho paper products company Boise Cascade, which has given Craig $51,300 throughout his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics � could not be reached for comment. Others declined to say whether Craig should stay or go. “That’s not anything we would weigh in on,” says National Association of Realtors spokeswoman Mary Trupo. The CRP reports that the realtor group has given Craig $32,000 since 1989. Karen Batra, director of public policy for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says her group’s support � $28,300 since 1989 � is due to Craig’s expertise on Western issues. “These are people that we work with all the time,” she says. � Carrie Levine
Taking Care When President George W. Bush proposed cuts to Medicare funding for hospice care in last year’s budget, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization had to largely sit the fight out: As a 501(c)3 charity, it’s prohibited from lobbying. But this year, the organization’s members can wade right in. Under the auspices of the nonprofit group, they’re funding the Alliance for Care at the End of Life, a 501c(4) unencumbered by lobbying restrictions. The alliance is relying on two lobbying entities that previously served the organization, Hogan & Hartson and solo practitioner Susan Emmer. It has also recently added John Jonas, of Patton Boggs, and Jane Loewenson, a former health policy aide to then-Sen. Tom Daschle, now with Nueva Vista. “I think as the need arises we may add other consultants,” says Jon Keyserling the hospice organization’s vice president of public policy. “The pressure on federal health care spending is going to continue into the indefinite future.” � Jeff Horwitz

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