Cablevision and Echostar embroiled in spectrum bidding war

Cablevision Systems last week entered into the bidding fray on spectrum slated for a new pay-TV/broadband service that is seen by the FCC as a competitor to cable and DBS. The spectrum on sale has been reserved for a satellite distribution system that would require customers to install dish antennas on their homes and could support such services as video-on-demand and high-speed Internet access.

Through 17 auction rounds last week,, backed by Ergen’s EchoStar Communications, was the high bidder at $75.2 million for licenses in 29 markets, including the largest markets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas.

DTV Norwich, which has bid $37.5 million, is backed by Cablevision Systems Corp. and George Blumenthal, a former U.K. cable executive. It was the high bidder for 46 markets, which include Chicago, Philadelphia, Tampa, Fla., and Miami.

Capitol Broadcasting, owners of one radio and three TV stations –including WRAL-DT in Raleigh, N.C.--dropped out of the bidding.

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