FCC upholds June 19 channel auction


The Federal Communications Commission Thursday refused a cellular-industry
request to delay the scheduled June 19 auction of spectrum now used for TV
channels 52 through 69.

The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association had asked the FCC
to delay the bidding for a sixth time. The CTIA said the bidding should be
delayed because the date for clearing the spectrum remains uncertain.

Broadcasters now using the frequencies are not obligated to vacate until 85
percent of their markets' homes are equipped to receive digital-TV signals. The
CTIA said such an open-ended handoff deadline will depress bids for the

The FCC noted, however, that Congress requires it to turn over auction
proceeds by September.

Despite being aware of the potential for low bids, lawmakers have not moved
the deadline, nor have they imposed tougher clearance rules on broadcasters.

Furthermore, the commission said, it has set a $2.6 billion floor for
proceeds from the bidding for channels 60 through 69. If total receipts come in
lower, the auction will be nullified and rescheduled.

The floor for separate, but simultaneous, bidding on channels 52 through 59
has not yet been set.

Companies seeking to participate in the June 19 sale must submit applications
by May 8.

Broadcasters with stations on the 700-megahertz band said the wireless
companies expected to bid for the spectrum are less concerned about the
government's proceeds than their own.

The CTIA's members opposed an FCC plan to let broadcasters negotiate
lucrative buyout deals in return for exiting the channels prior to the end of
the digital-TV transition.