Lingering disputes between FCC commissioners over Northpoint Technology
Ltd.'s plan to launch a terrestrial pay TV service squelched Federal
Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell's plan to settle the issue at
the commission's monthly meeting, to be held next week.
Northpoint is vying against MDS America and others for spectrum now used
solely for satellite-TV companies.
Northpoint said it is entitled to the spectrum free-of-charge, whereas MDS
said the spectrum should be auctioned to the highest bidder.
EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. opposed Northpoint's plan,
saying that it will cause interference.
The dispute carries huge political baggage and has divided Capitol Hill. Just
Thursday, Northpoint supporter Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) asked Powell why the
proceeding was not completed. Powell replied that he voted on the item in
November and was waiting for the other commissioners to vote.
Sources following the issue said they do not know what snagged efforts to
vote on it at the March 14 meeting. Most sources expect the commissioners to