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Spectrum cash-out option might still be on the table for FCC, broadcasters

Chris Ziegler

Silly us for thinking this issue had been drawing to a close! Indeed, rumors are swirling again that the FCC is looking into the concept of getting television broadcasters to trade in some spectrum in support of the nation's universal broadband initiatives -- initiatives for which significant additional airspace is likely needed, and for which the Commission is expected to file its master plan to Congress next month. The latest information from BusinessWeek says that companies might be offered the opportunity to share in the monetary spoils of any auction that would come out of reclaimed spectrum, a privilege usually reserved for the government's coffers alone. It's unclear whether the move would be voluntary, "voluntary," or compulsory, but any strong-arm move on the part of the Fed is likely to get some hellish pushback from the nation's broadcasters -- they cherish their spectrum as much as they ever have and many feel as though they're finally on the cusp of capitalizing on the promise of mobile TV. Even with significant cash incentives, this could easily become a battle royale for years to come.

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