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Dingell demands spectrum auction information from FCC

Putting himself in the middle of a raging debate on the auction of broadcast spectrum, Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, a senior Democratic congressman and member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has cut to the chase. He has posed a series of direct questions to the FCC, including asking how many Americans will lose free over-the-air television viewing if the government auctions 40 percent of the broadcast spectrum.

Dingell presented his concerns to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a public letter. All of the questions focus on the FCC’s plans to auction off up to 120MHz of television spectrum for broadband use.

Dingell said he wants access to the FCC’s Allotment Optimization Model (AOM), which has been used by the commission to determine various parameters involving the spectrum auction.

“I understand that the commission has developed an Allotment Optimization Model that has been used to investigate various scenarios for incentive auctions, including spectrum reclamation and repacking,” Dingell wrote in the letter dated June 17. “I recognize that these are investigative scenarios and may vary from results in reality, since predicted station participation may not mirror actual behavior. Nevertheless, this analysis would be as helpful to the Congress as it has been to the commission in understanding the implications and potential consequences of spectrum reclamation.”

Dingell asked Genachowski when the model would be widely available to third parties, particularly those with an in interest in the auctions. He then went on to pose other questions about the auction.

The congressman wants to know the “the general implications and impact” of reclaiming the spectrum and an analysis of redesigning 90MHz, 60MHz and 30MHz. How many stations, he asked, will have to share six MHz channels? How many stations in the Northeast corridor, the Great Lakes border region and in the San Francisco/Los Angeles area would have to share spectrum or go off the air?

Dingell wants to know how many full-power Class A and low-power stations are included in the FCC’s count? How many stations would have to move to a new channel under a “repacking” scenario? How many stations would be moved from UHF to VHF?

Dingell wants answers to all of the questions by June 27.