Senator's amendment has broadcasters questioning 'voluntary' parts of spectrum bill

An amendment to the Senate's controversial voluntary spectrum auction and reallocation bill that would authorize the FCC to auction unused or unwanted broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband has some broadcasters wondering if there is a voluntary aspect to the auction at all.

Apparently, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) inserted a change to the bill that states "84 MHz shall be assigned via competitive bidding process." That leaves open the door that the FCC could auction 84 MHz of broadcast TV spectrum even if the broadcasters don't willingly give it up, according to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and that's not a good thing.

"We want to make sure that voluntary stays voluntary. Any provision that would force broadcasters to involuntarily relinquish spectrum would be strongly opposed by NAB," said the NAB's Dennis Wharton.

For more:
- TVNewsCheck has this story

Special Report: The U.S. wireless industry in 10 quick charts

Related articles:
Taking a page from cable, NAB and CEA at loggerheads
Broadcasters cite trillion-dollar impact of local TV, radio