McCain Wants List of Northpoint Backers


Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) is urging Northpoint Technology Ltd. -- a company seeking a free nationwide radio license from the Federal Communications Commission -- to disclose its financial backers and potential beneficiaries if awarded the license.

McCain, in a letter last Friday to Northpoint leader Sophia Collier, said Congress needed to know the company's financial connections before advancing legislation that, if passed, would likely result in Northpoint's achieving its aims.

"Recent reports indicate that Northpoint has provided financial interests in the company to several well-connected individuals, including relatives of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. [D-Del.], former aide to President Clinton Betsey Wright, a former executive director of the Mississippi Republican party, the wife of a former aide to Sen. Conrad Burns [R-Mont.] and `major Democratic money men,'" McCain said in a page-and-a-half letter to Collier.

Northpoint claims that it has technology that can share direct-broadcast satellite spectrum to offer digital TV and high-speed data. DBS operators EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. insist that Northpoint's terrestrial transmitters would damage their signals going to millions of customers.

The FCC rejected Northpoint's free license application and scheduled an auction in January.

Northpoint executive Toni Bush said the company would cooperate with McCain.

"Northpoint Technology is pleased to have the opportunity to address the misleading and inaccurate information that has been disseminated by our opponents, the entrenched incumbent satellite companies," Bush said in a prepared statement Monday. "The satellite companies are trying to prevent the emergence of new competition."

McCain's letter did not indicate whether he would make Northpoint's response public.