Congress

Communications Subcommittee Schedules Repack Hearing

Will provide update on progress 8/31/2017 5:40 PM Eastern

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has switched gears and will hold a Sept. 7 hearing on the post-incentive auction repack in its Communications Subcommittee.

The committee had planned to hold a high-profile hearing on network neutrality on that date, but sources say that has been indefinitely postponed.

Now, the Communications subcommittee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. entitled “The Broadcast Incentive Auction: Update on Repacking Opportunities and Challenges.” No witnesses had been set at press time.

The repack will be getting in gear this fall, with almost a thousand TV stations having to move to make room for wireless operators in the swaths of broadcast spectrum purchased in the spectrum auction.

“The broadcast incentive auction empowered broadcasters, businesses, networks, and consumers to play a role in the way that our nation makes spectrum allocation decisions, and it successfully cleared 84MHz of spectrum while raising $19.8 billion in bids," said Communications Subcommittee Chair Marsha Blackburn. "It is critical the FCC works expeditiously to repack the remaining broadcasters without disruption to consumers. I look forward to receiving an update on our continued efforts to usher in a new era of wireless broadband."

Among the issues likely to be teed up are how much the repack will cost, whether the $1.75 billion Congress set aside will be enough--broadcasters say no and the FCC appears to agree, what the impact of the transition on the rollout of a new, interactive, ATSC 3.0 transmission standard will have on the repack or vice versa, and a Microsoft proposal to reserve broadcast channels for unlicensed wireless broadband use.

The Energy & Commerce committee was instrumental in passing the legislation the created the spectrum auction.

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