Broadcasters worried early in the debate that they might be forced to give up spectrum. But, thanks to Rep. Greg Walden, a former broadcaster, they pretty much got everything they wanted. The bill takes care of broadcasters that choose to hold onto spectrum, making sure the FCC makes every effort to preserve TV station coverage areas and population reach. No station will be forced to move to VHF. To help broadcasters relocate, $1.75 billion is set aside in the bill to cover costs.
A House Energy and Commerce panel released draft legislation on Wednesday that denies public-safety officials a block of spectrum for the creation of national broadband network. While the draft legislation from Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden has pleased broadcasters, other groups, especially net-neutrality advocates, are furious about several provisions in the bill.
The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act authorizes broadcasters and other spectrum licensees to voluntarily return unused portions of the airwaves. The freed-up spectrum would be re-auctioned for commercial wireless broadband use in exchange for a portion of the proceeds through “incentive auctions.” The bill now heads to Senate floor.
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Wednesday that finding more spectrum to auction for broadband use will be “priority.” He also said that it will “likely include voluntary incentive auctions,” which will require Congress to authorize paying broadcasters and others to give up their spectrum.