Spectrum bill walks razor's edge between broadcasters, FCC spectrum needs

A draft copy of a spectrum initiative bill wending its way through the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee shows the razor's edge that Congress is walking between preserving the rights of broadcasters while at the same time giving the FCC room to grab spectrum for what it claims is a broadband crisis.

The bill, being worked on by Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison, says that the FCC can't "reclaim spectrum ... on an involuntary basis" to carry out the spectrum auction but can push non-compliant broadcasters off their specific spectrum spots by allocating "an identical amount of contiguous spectrum located between channels 14 and 50."

Called "repacking," this provision has broadcasters worried that already touchy digital signals could get worse, slicing back serving areas even more and defeating any potential competitive digital plays.

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