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FCC schedules/delays spectrum auction - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC schedules/delays spectrum auction

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The Federal Communications Commission Friday delayed for a sixth time the
auction of spectrum now used for TV channels 60 through 69, with that bidding
now planned for Jan. 14. But it will auction channels 52 through 59 June 19, as
scheduled.

FCC chairman Michael Powell said delay of the upper-channel auction is
necessary to give lawmakers more time to work out a compromise on the
controversial bidding.

Broadcaster Bud Paxson, who owns 19 channels on the 60-through-69 band,
opposed the delay and argued that another postponement is illegal. The
Paxson-led Spectrum Clearing Alliance said Friday that it is considering asking
federal judges to order the full auction to stay on track.

But Powell said Friday's decision balances 'both past and potential
congressional action.'

Lawmakers have been considering an indefinite delay of the auction because
wireless companies have balked at paying Paxson and other broadcasters what
could amount to billions of dollars in early buyouts necessary to get them to
relinquish the spectrum quickly.

An auction for the lower channels is less controversial because so many
broadcasters are located on that part of the band that early buyouts won't be
sufficient to clear them and potential buyers are resigned to not getting that
spectrum for years.

Commissioner Kevin Martin opposed going ahead with the 52-through-59 auction
June 19. The auctions should not go forward until the FCC develops a
comprehensive spectrum policy, he said.

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