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State Broadcasters to Senate: Only One Incentive Auction

An alliance of state broadcast associations has told Senate leaders that the FCC should only be allowed to hold a single incentive auction for reclaimed broadcast spectrum, and that stations not participating in the auction should not lose any interference protections or coverage area for their signals.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, they praised the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), respectively, for coming up with a "solid framework for voluntary incentive auctions."

They have produced a bill that would authorize the FCC to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum by giving them a cut from auctions of that reclaimed spectrum. The bill would also, and for Rockefeller it is the primary driver, use some of those auction proceeds to pay for the creation and maintenance of an interoperable emergency communications network.

In the letter, they ask that the FCC be required to replicate each station's coverage area "so no viewers are disenfranchised." They add that stations that may be moved to make room for larger swaths of spectrum for wireless broadband should not be reassigned to channels that are harder to view.

After having completed the DTV transition only two years ago, they ask that the FCC, if it is going to require a second, "perhaps more complex" transition, be required to hold  only a single incentive auction, and "minimize the impact of repacking on the remaining television stations, so that viewers are not continually subjected to the confusion that results from stations shifting from one channel to another."

The Rockefeller-Hutchison bill has been passed out of committee, but has yet to get a floor vote. The broadcasters want the bill fixed before then.