Rockefeller Wants Incentive Auction Bill Markup By Memorial Day

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wants to mark up his spectrum auction/first responder bill by the end of this month.

One source suggests May 25 could be the markup date. An aide to Rockefeller would not comment on the date, but said: "The goal is to markup the bill by the Memorial Day recess," which begins May 27. A mark-up is when a bill is amended, if necessary, and voted on by the committee.

The Rockefeller bill would allocate the D block of spectrum--recovered from broadcasters in the DTV transition--to an interoperable broadband communications network. It would also give the FCC the authority to pay broadcasters from auctions proceeds for more broadcaster spectrum the government wants to reclaim and auction for wireless broadband. The money to pay for and maintain the emergency network would also come out of those auction proceeds.

Rockefeller's bill stipulates that the broadcast spectrum-reclamation regime must be voluntary, though that definition is a bone of contention with broadcasters and the FCC.

The goal of Rockefeller and other legislators is to avoid having the tenth anniversary of 9/11 pass without a bill to implement one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which was to create the interoperable network.

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.