Paxson pushes auction changes


Paxson Communications and 18 other companies have asked that the FCC revise plans for the upcoming auction of spectrum for channels 59-69, including a change of auction date to January 2002.

The petition, filed on Friday, seeks a delay in the spectrum auction from Sept. 12 to January 2002 to allow broadcasters time to reach pacts to vacate the spectrum. It also suggests several variations on the theme of permitting stations to vacate that spectrum and permit analog stations to operate as either analog or digital programmers. Stations signing the petition with Paxson include Allen & Co., Pappas Telecasting, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Jovan Broadcasting and Shop At Home.

Observers anticipate that broadcasters will realize $30 billion by selling the 700 MHz spectrum to wireless service providers willing to pay a premium for access to it before the present 2006 FCC deadline for stations making the transition to a single digital signal. Paxson could gain a $1 billion windfall from the auction.
- Richard Tedesco