Commerce Committee measure balances public safety, broadcast concerns

October 5, 2004

The Senate Commerce Committee in late September voted on a compromise measure requiring television stations operating on UHF 63, 64, 68 and 69 to return their spectrum if public emergency responders make a “bona-fide request” for part of the band.

The measure, which passed the committee on a 13-9 vote, lets the FCC waive requirements to return spectrum to avoid disruption of television service to consumers only if “all relevant public safety entities are able to use such frequencies free of interference by Dec. 31, 2007.”

Prior to the measure’s passage, committee chairman Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had introduced a bill requiring all broadcasters to relinquish spectrum used for analog transmission by 2009.

Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) offered a new amendment — scaling back the original bill’s attempt to establish a date certain for analog switch-off.

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