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Auction delays becoming more likely

The upcoming 700-megahertz auctions could be delayed if efforts in the House,
and, now, the Senate pan out.

At press time Tuesday, the House of Representatives was considering and
likely to pass a bill that would delay the auctions indefinitely.

Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) have introduced
similar legislation.

"This bill will delay the ill-timed, premature auction of spectrum that is
already occupied and not ready for commercial use," Ensign said when he
introduced the bill.

"To proceed with the auction at this time would be a terrible example of
budget politics taking precedence over sound spectrum management," Kerry said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has said he also plans to introduce a
bill, but his would force the Federal Communications Commission to hold the
auctions. Stevens may try to attach such a measure to a moving spending bill.

Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), one of the chief sponsors of the House bill, told
reporters at the National Show in New Orleans that he expects the FCC to
agree to a delay, according to Reuters.

Paxson Communications Corp. is pushing hard for the auctions to be held
because it stands to make millions of dollars on payouts from wireless companies that will
want Paxson's television stations to clear the spectrum quickly.

The wireless industry, however, wants the auctions to be postponed.