Skip to main content

Powell Pushes to Auction Satellite Spectrum

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell has written a letter to House Commerce Subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) opposing the provision in an FCC-spending bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee requiring the commission to provide free spectrum for a new terrestrial pay TV service proposed by Northpoint Technology Ltd.

The FCC in April 2002 decided to open up the direct-broadcast satellite spectrum to competing terrestrial service, but it concluded that those competitors should have to bid for the spectrum.

Northpoint argued, and the FCC conceded, that it pioneered the terrestrial service. But the commission still concluded that the statute does not support exempting the spectrum from auction.

"I do not believe limiting the commission’s ability to auction this spectrum, limiting the value the public would reap from such a licensing scheme, or limiting competition and innovation is the best policy for the American people," Powell wrote to Wolf.