House E&C Releases Spectrum White Paper

Should the FCC be able to classify the money it can get for a license as a public-interest benefit?

That is one of the questions raised in the latest white paper from the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

The committee Tuesday released the second in a series of communications white papers, this one on spectrum policy, part of its effort to gather input on a revamp of communications laws.

"In order to issue spectrum licenses, the Communications Act requires the FCC to make an affirmative finding that granting the license serves the public interest, convenience, and necessity," according to the white paper. " Moreover, the Act prohibits the FCC from basing its finding on the expectation of auction revenues. Should the Act permit the FCC to use expected auction revenue as the basis for a public interest finding?"

Other questions the paper tees up include what structural changes might be necessary, the appropriate role of unlicensed spectrum, how to incentivize government to be more efficient spectrum users, and whether all FCC licenses should be flexible use [broadcasters would love to have more flexibility].

The committee wants responses by April 25. It is planning a year-long look at communications policy with an eye toward tackling a Communications Act rewrite next year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.