The Senate Commerce Committee voted 21 to 4 today (June 8) to authorize incentive auctions to compensate broadcasters that give up spectrum for wireless broadband. It’s part of a larger effort to fund an emergency communications network. If it becomes law, the legislation will also compensate broadcasters who retain their spectrum but are “repacked” to make larger, contiguous swaths of vacated spectrum available for wireless (Current, “Spectrum talk at NETA: One ominous session,” Jan. 24, 2011; also Feb. 8, 2010). The bill must now pass the full Senate and move to the Republican-controlled House.
The Association of Public Television Stations told Current in a statement: “We have been carefully watching progress on the Hill regarding FCC authority to conduct incentive auctions. Obviously, Congressional authorization is the linchpin in the FCC’s broadband wireless spectrum plans. We are hopeful that all spectrum legislation and implementing FCC rules will continue to recognize the important services provided by public television stations.”