Hutchison Backs House Spectrum Auction Bill

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), co-sponsor of S. 911, the Senate incentive spectrum auction bill, said Wednesday she thinks that the House Republican version of a spectrum bill introduced this week would complement that Senate bill, and said she would work to incorporate it into S. 911, which has already passed the Senate Commerce Committee.

"I'm very glad that the House Energy & Commerce Committee is placing a priority on providing our nation's first responders with the spectrum they need to build a robust nationwide public safety wireless network," she said. "While there are some differences between our bills, I believe the House's JOBS Act is complementary to the bipartisan bill Chairman Rockefeller and I have passed in the Senate Commerce Committee, S. 911."

She said she wanted to get a spectrum bill to the president "sometime this winter." That might be an acknowledgement that a spectrum bill won't pass this year. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated there would not be a vote on the standalone S. 911 before next year, according to S. 911 co-sponsor Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.). But Rockefeller has not given up on passage attached to some must-pass bill before the end of the session.

Paving the way for Hutchison's support was the House bill's allocation, rather than auction, of D block spectrum for an interoperable broadband emergency communications network. The Senate bill also allocates, while House Republicans, for the most part, had wanted an auction of the spectrum to a private entity that would partner with public safety on the network.

The House Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act, is scheduled to be marked up in the Communications Subcommittee Thursday. The bill was introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.). Walden had wanted the D block auctioned, but said this week that everybody was not going to get what they wanted in the bill, which obviously included himself.

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.