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FCC Budget Proposal Hints at Broadcast Spectrum Recall

Two items in the FCC 2012 Budget Estimates Submitted to Congress caught my attention. One was the note about spectrum user license fees:

"To promote efficient use of the electromagnetic spectrum, the Administration proposes to provide the FCC with new authority to use other economic mechanisms, such as fees, as a spectrum management tool. FCC would be authorized to set user fees on unauctioned spectrum licenses and could be used in instances where incentive auctions are not appropriate. Fees would be phased in over time to determine the appropriate application and level for fees. Fee collections are estimated to begin in 2011, and total $4.8 billion through 2021."

Does this mean that broadcasters that do not give up spectrum in incentive auctions could face spectrum fees if they want to continue broadcasting over the air or would giving up the revenue from incentive auctions be sufficient? Could spectrum fees be used in place of incentive auctions to encourage TV broadcasters to give up spectrum?

The other item that stood out was the Media Bureau's budget request. The budget for "Other Contractual Services" increases by almost a factor of five from $236,031 in 2011 to $1,159,003 in 2012.

What are those "Other Contractual Services"? Is the FCC planning to outsource the repacking of TV spectrum or the dismantling of off-air TV broadcasting?

Perhaps we will learn more when Congress considers the budget.