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Bill eyes public-safety spectrum giveback

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would force
broadcasters to vacate spectrum earmarked for public safety no later than

The law currently instructs broadcasters to return their analog spectrum to
the government by 2006, but only if 85 percent of the market has access to
digital-television signals.

The law reserves channels 63, 64, 68 and 69 for public safety, but related
agencies cannot put that spectrum to use until broadcasters clear it.

Harman's bill -- co-sponsored by Reps. James Moran (D-Va.) and Benjamin
Gilman (R-N.Y.) -- would require broadcasters on those channels to return their
spectrum to the government by 2006 no matter how many TV households have access
to digital television.

'In any emergency, as well as in their day-to-day work protecting
communities, law-enforcement and fire departments need instant radio
communications,' Harman said.

'But if they are from different jurisdictions, they often use different
broadcast frequencies or incompatible equipment, and they are forced to rely on
messengers or other means to share information and respond to the emergency,'
she added.

Harman is the ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and
Homeland Security and a member of the House Energy and Commerce