FCC Raises $19.5 billion in its Auction of the 700Mhz Radio Spectrum

Common Sense Media calls for portion of future spectrum auction funds to be spent on Internet safety education for kids

Common Sense Media
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Federal Communications Commission announced last night that it had raised a record $19.5 billion in its auction of the 700Mhz radio spectrum, far surpassing early estimates of the auction's revenue-generating potential.

"The fact that the auction generated twice as much money as expected demonstrates that the major media companies realize how much market potential there is in wireless broadband access," said Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer. "As the companies that purchased rights to the spectrum begin to utilize it for new products, we're going to see more and more American consumers – including millions of kids – having access to the Internet and wireless technologies in more and more places. Common sense suggests that we'll also need to devote far more attention to making sure that kids and educators know how to use the Web and wireless technologies in a safe and smart way."

In January, Common Sense Media announced that it had joined with three former FCC Chairmen – Michael Powell, William Kennard, and Newton Minow – as well as leading educators and technology experts to form the Digital Kids Task Force, which will work with lawmakers, educators, and business leaders on digital media issues. Specifically, the task force will work to:

  • Support innovative digital media education programs for parents, teachers, and children to help America's children learn digital safety and smarts.
  • Establish a centralized research program on the impact of digital media on children.
  • Develop educational programs that integrate digital media into curriculum and classrooms.
  • Build public awareness about the opportunities and potential dangers of digital media.

In a statement announcing that the auction had closed, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that because the reserve price for the D-block – one segment of the spectrum auction – had not been met, the FCC was considering options for that block of spectrum. Congressional leaders are also considering new rules for a D-block auction.

"If Congress and the FCC begin to look at a possible re-auction of the D-block, we feel strongly that they should allocate all or a majority of the proceeds to initiatives aimed at educating kids and families about how to be safe and smart in the new digital world," Steyer said. "The Internet is the new playground for kids and we need to make sure that they know how to get the most, and avoid the worst, of this new environment."

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is the nation's leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the media lives of children and families. Today, millions of parents, educators, and young people will turn to the Common Sense Media Guide for the trustworthy information, easy-to-use tools, and practical guidance they need to raise a generation of media-savvy kids and families. To become a member, please visit us at www.commonsensemedia.org.