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NAB Praises Pulling of Spectrum Language From Debt Bill

The National Association of Broadcasters breathed a public sigh of relief Monday that the budget bill compromise process had included taking spectrum auctions out of the bill.

"We are pleased that the negotiated debt ceiling bill, to be considered by Congress, does not threaten free and local broadcasting," said NAB President Gordon Smith in a statement. "NAB will continue working with lawmakers on incentive auction legislation that is truly voluntary. Our goal is to ensure that TV stations choosing not to go out of business will be held harmless, and that tens of millions of Americans who enjoy local news, entertainment, sports and lifesaving weather warnings from broadcasters will not be penalized."

With the Senate likely exiting for its summer break as soon as the debt ceiling bill is done, it looks like there will be no action on a stand-alone spectrum auction until at least September.

But if Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has anything to do with it, that bill we get passed before the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11.

In a statement Monday, Rockefeller, who is co-sponsor of a stand-alone spectrum bill, said he was disappointed that the language was removed, saying the House was to blame for "failing to make communications safer and more reliable for first responders." The spectrum auctions are being used to fund an interoperable broadband network. But Rockefeller was undeterred. " Despite that setback, I will continue to fight to make sure that by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 we have this bill signed into law."

But with Congress scheduled to take their customary summer break to return to their homes and home districts, that will be a tall order.