The budget compromise hammered out this week by the House, Senate and White House would not require broadcasters to pay fees for staying on their analog spectrum past 2002, sources said, but it would delay auctions of channels 52-59 until 2004 and channels 60-69 until 2006.
The White House's budget plan is just a blueprint for writing appropriations and authorization bills for the coming fiscal year, and language included within it is not binding. Still, broadcasters wanted to get rid of the spectrum fee provision as soon as possible.
Lawmakers have been more open to the idea of delaying the 52-69 auctions, particularly since the FCC already has delayed the 60-69 auctions four times at the request of the wireless and broadcast industries. The administration wants to put off the auctions, believing that holding them later will yield more money for the U.S. Treasury.
- Paige Albiniak