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Washington State Reps. Seek FCC Info on Spectrum Border Issues

Add a trio of Washington State Democratic House members to
those concerned about border issues and the FCC's incentive auctions. The FCC
will need to coordinate with Canada and Mexico as it reclaims spectrum from
broadcasters and repacks them into a different configuration to free up
spectrum for wireless.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) has been particularly concerned
with frequency coordination issues with Canada, but that is not the only
Northern Border legislator looking for some answers.

In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, a copy of
which was supplied to B&C, Reps.
Jim McDermott, Norm Dicks and Adam Smith said the FCC must carefully coordinate
with Canada to avoid interference, but also to ensure that viewers continue to
receive signals at all given that when TV stations are moved to clear spectrum
for cellphone companies, there will be fewer places to move them given
Canadian rights to channels along the border.

They are concerned that as many as 14 stations could be
forced to cut power and lose viewers, including 10 of 17 full-power stations in
the Seattle-Tacoma market.

"Freeing up frequencies for wireless broadband is an
important policy objective, which we supported," they wrote, "but
that objective cannot -- and should not -- be achieved by depriving residents
of television markets along the northern U.S. border of access to television
signals they have enjoyed for years for free."

They asked the FCC to disclose "on an ongoing
basis," any info on a new band plan and the nature of any contacts with
Canadian officials.

In an interview with B&C/Multichannel News, Gary Epstein, senior
adviser and co-lead on the FCC's Incentive Auction Task Force, said the FCC
would address the border issues before it votes on a final auction framework,
though he pointed out the statute does not require that. He also said the plan
was flexible enough to "accommodate differences in spectrum along the
border if we actually need it."