Spectrum Auction Authority Passes in House

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The Republican payroll tax extension bill, which also includes spectrum incentive auction legislation, has passed the House of Representatives, which marks the furthest such legislation has gotten in either chamber.

The legislation, which passed 234-193, essentially incorporates the Republican House version of legislation that authorizes the Federal Communications Commission to compensate broadcasters for returning spectrum that will then be re-auctioned for wireless broadband use.

Broadcasters have said they do not oppose voluntary reclamation and auctions so long as the FCC protects the coverage areas and interference protections of broadcasters left behind.

The bill has such protections, and would compensate broadcasters and cable and satellite operators for the cost of "repacking" TV stations -- having them move and share channels to free up contiguous blocks for auctioning.

A handful of Republicans voted against the bill, and about the same number of Democrats voted for it. The Senate is unlikely to pass the payroll tax bill in its current form, and the president has pledged to veto it.

Since Democrats have major issues with the spectrum bill, it may have to modified if it is to be part of an ultimately acceptable package, or deleted and voted on as a stand-alone at a later date.

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