Debt Commission Plan Backs FCC Auction Authority
December 2, 2010 at 3:58 AM (PT)
The NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REFORM -- the "Debt Commission" deputized by the OBAMA administration to come up with a plan to cut the deficit -- has included a provision encouraging Congress to give the FCC the authority to conduct voluntary incentive auctions in its sweeping deficit reduction plan released WEDNESDAY (12/1).
The auctions, which were also proposed in yesterday's FCC spectrum management notices, would auction off broadcast spectrum voluntarily given up by broadcasters for wireless broadband . Under the voluntary incentive auction plan, the FCC would encourage television broadcasters to combine operations on single multiplexed channels and allow the Commission to auction off the channels being abandoned. The panel also said that the Commission's present temporary authority to conduct spectrum auctions should be made permanent beyond the present expiration date of 2012.
"Since 1993," the proposal reads, "the FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) has raised about $55 billion through its authority to assign radio spectrum licenses by competitive bidding. The Commission recommends that this authority, set to expire in 2012, should be made permanent. The Commission also encourages Congress to consider granting the FCC authority to conduct incentive auctions to free up spectrum for commercial wireless providers, which the FCC estimates could generate significant mandatory receipts."
The move drew plaudits from the HIGH TECH SPECTRUM COALITION, a group including the CONSUMER ELECTRONICS ASSOCIATION and other high-tech companies and trade associations. "The bipartisan Commission's call for voluntary incentive auction authority, which will increase jobs, enhance innovation, and provide the government resources to reduce the national debt, is another signal that the time for Congressional action is at hand," said CEA Pres./CEO GARY SHAPIRO.
"A properly designed voluntary incentive auction could give broadcasters reasonable compensation for voluntarily electing to relinquish their licenses and still generate tens of billions of dollars for U.S. taxpayers and even greater gains for consumers," said INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY COUNCIL President/CEO DEAN GARFIELD.
"If the FCC uses voluntary incentive auctions to free up 120 MHz of TV broadcast spectrum, HTSC conservatively estimates auction proceeds of approximately $20 billion to $40 billion in total. This revenue can significantly further the goal of driving down the debt," said TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION Pres. GRANT SEIFFERT.