White House budget calls for analog-TV fees


The White House is again pushing to create a spectrum fee for

This time, the Bush administration is calling on TV stations to pay an
"annual lease" totaling $500 million beginning in 2007.

The fee would apply only to analog-spectrum users, and it is being proposed
to "encourage" television broadcasters to vacate analog spectrum after 2006, "as
required by law," according to the White House 2004 budget plan, issued

Stations would be exempt from the fee after converting to digital and
returning their analog spectrum.

Different versions of spectrum fees are almost always included in White House
budgets, and they have been defeated repeatedly by broadcasters' lobbying.

Still, the White House is pushing the idea again with pressure to quickly
make TV spectrum available for wireless and other new services.

The budget, which must be approved by Congress, also eliminates Commerce
Department grants that have helped public stations to construct digital
facilities. The budget suggests that $100 million of the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting's already-enacted 2004 funding be designated for digital

Groups representing public broadcasters said enacting the president's budget
would "seriously compromise" public stations' ability to deliver programming and
other current services.