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House Approves Spectrum Auction Legislation

The House has approved spectrum incentive auction legislation, part of the conference report compromise on payroll tax break/ unemployment benefit legislation that the auction proceeds will help pay for.

The vote was 293 to 132 and came after numerous legislators praised the spectrum portion for job creation, the $15 billion it is expected to raise to help pay for those benefit extensions, and for protecting broadcasters and their viewers -- bill language requires the FCC to make best efforts to protect the coverage areas and interference protections of the broadcasters who don't give up spectrum.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass later Friday.

House Communications Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), whose House version of auction legislation provided the basis of the bill, took to the floor during debate to say the legislation would free up hundreds of thousands of jobs and allow for the build out of advanced wireless and an emergency broadband communications network.

He emphasized that the auction was voluntary and would protect broadcasters -- he is a former broadcaster himself.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee, said the incentive auction legislation would usher in more competition and innovation and ensure world-leading wireless infrastructure and use of TV band spectrum for unlicensed wireless.