Plans to seize some of the spectrum used for TV channels suffered a setback when Congress failed to pass an anti-terrorism bill before Thanksgiving.
Lawmakers were expected to include a non-binding “sense of the Congress” recommending a specific deadline for completing TV stations’ switch to all-digital channels and returning old analog channels to the government.
The measure also would have recommended an even earlier date for reclaiming TV channels 62 and higher. Those channels are slated to be turned over to local fire and police departments, which are suffering a shortage of communications frequencies.
Their spectrum shortage was dramatically highlighted during the 2001 terrorist attacks when emergency workers in New York City had trouble finding open frequencies.
Disputes between top House Republicans and the White House—none of which had to do with the TV spectrum—prevented Congress from passing the measure.
Congress was expected to adjourn for the year before leaving Washington, but congressional leaders say they may call lawmakers back for two days in early December if a compromise on the anti-terrorism bill is reached. But an industry source tracking the debate says a breakthrough is unlikely and the terrorism bill will most likely have to wait until the next Congress.