Hollings Criticizes FCC Spectrum Plan

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The chairman of a powerful Senate committee warned the Federal Communications
Commission not to allow broadcasters to sell parts of the television spectrum to
wireless phone companies.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) wrote in a letter
to FCC head Michael Powell that the plan his agency approved last month is
'outrageous' and amounts to 'bending the law.'

Under the FCC plan, TV stations that are licensed to broadcast on channels 60
through 69 could sell the space to wireless phone companies, which claim to be
in need of more room on the spectrum.

Hollings, whose committee oversees the FCC, joined some consumer groups in
arguing that current law requires the commission to hold auctions to lease the
airwaves.

'Allowing industry to negotiate private marketplace deals that dictate the
governance and the transfer of spectrum and to earn profits on the spectrum
through such arrangements is outrageous,' Hollings wrote.

'Such action clearly violates the standards and mandates to which the FCC is
required to adhere,' the letter said.

In media markets where fewer than 85 percent of households receive digital-TV
signals, current FCC rules allow broadcasters to use channels 60 through 69.

The FCC argued that giving TV broadcasters a financial incentive to vacate
their spectrum is the only legal way to free up space for wireless phone
companies.

In his letter, Hollings said the FCC has 'full responsibility of
administering spectrum policy and to carry out this authority according to the
mandates of Congress.'

The letter continued, '[The] spectrum is a public resource that is to be used
according to the laws prescribed by Congress, and not based on the dictates of
industry.'

States News Service

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