Broadcast spectrum auction date set

The FCC will hold an auction for the remaining broadcast spectrum-- channels 52, 53 and 56 to 58 -- on May 28. A number of wireless Internet and telephone organizations are said to be interested in the frequencies, which will be sold as six separate licenses covering different regions of the country. The auction of channels 60 through 69, reserved for a variety of emergency services, has not been scheduled.

The sale will also include 256 unsold licenses from September’s frequency auctions for the “C” and “D” blocks of the 700-megahertz band that includes channels 54, 55 and 59. The commission said it is reclaiming these channels for alternate applications, such as cell phones and mobile data services.

As part of the transition to digital television, the FCC has mandated that broadcasters vacate channels 52 through 59 and transfer operations to the core channels 2 through 50. Many stations are aware of the shift and are not happy about it because it could make channels hard for viewers to find.

The auction's winners are not entitled to the frequencies until incumbent broadcasters have completed the switch to digital TV. Although the transition date is set for 2006, many expect that deadline to be relaxed.

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