Senators remind Clyburn of international coordination requirement

Nineteen U.S. senators sent a letter Sept. 20 to acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn reminding her that the FCC is obligated by law to coordinate with frequency usage with the governments of Canada and Mexico before conducting its incentive auction, which aims to clear U.S. TV spectrum for use by mobile wireless service providers.

“This coordination is expressly required in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 and is necessary to avoid harm to television viewers near international borders and to avoid limits on the amount of spectrum recovered for wireless broadband in many major markets,” the letter said.

In the letter, the senators urged the FCC to be expeditious in handling international frequency coordination. While the agency recent ample experience coordinating TV spectrum use with Canada and Mexico during the transition from analog to digital broadcasting, the FCC had far longer to resolve problems that arose along the borders than it will with the incentive auction.

“As you know, border coordination problems arose during the digital television (DTV) transition, which occurred over a much longer period than the current auction timeline. It is important that the FCC takes advantage of the insights gained during the DTV transition in carrying out this coordination process,” the letter said.

The letter pointed out that coordinating with Canada and Mexico will help maximize auction revenues and ensure there are enough channel allotments for local TV broadcasters.

The letter was signed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ron Johnson (R-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Carl Levin (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Robert Casey (D-PA), Martin Heinrich (N-NM), Max Baucus (D-MT), Al Franken (D-MN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).