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ACA Praises Senate Panel For Addressing Smaller Cable Concerns In New Bill

The American Cable Association praised the Senate Commerce Committee on the June 8 passage of legislation that would set aside valuable spectrum for national public safety network for first responders and provide the Federal Communications Commission with the authority both to auction TV spectrum and compensate broadcasters that give up airwaves with some of the auction revenue. ACA also thanked the Senate panel for addressing the concerns of smaller cable operators.

"Under Chairman Rockefeller's leadership, the Senate Commerce Committee has approved legislation that will address many complex and difficult issues in the communications sector in a fair and balanced manner.  ACA commends Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison on their comprehensive approach that at once promotes spectrum efficiency, safeguards the interests of the public safety community and minimizes the impact of these policies on other parties, like smaller cable operators," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

Reclaiming broadcast spectrum for use by wireless broadband companies has been a signature issue for FCC Chairman Genachowski.

"Inclusion of incentive auctions designed by the FCC is another positive feature, especially because it will provide funding to compensate cable operators for all costs associated with carrying TV stations that share spectrum or are repacked.  ACA is also pleased the Senate bill will not expand TV station must carry rights on cable systems beyond what's provided in current law," Polka said.

According to published reports, the bill (S. 911) would compensate broadcasters that retain their spectrum but need to be repacked to make larger, contiguous swaths of vacated spectrum available for wireless broadband. It would also compensate cable operators for any adjustments they have to make to their retransmissions of the reconfigured broadcasters.
The bill is intended to create an interoperable broadband network for first responders, which would be funded from the proceeds of auctioned broadcast spectrum. It would give first responders a slice of the airwaves - the so-called D Block -- that the FCC failed to auction commercially in 2008 because the reserve price was not met.

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