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Spectrum incentive auctions would raise big bucks, say trade groups

Grant Gross | Feb. 15, 2011
Wireless auctions using spectrum voluntarily given up by television stations could raise $33 billion or more for the cash-strapped U.S. treasury, according to a new paper from two tech-related trade groups.

In some cases, broadcasters may demand more of the auction proceeds, however. "Not all stations may be willing to surrender their licenses at their projected market value," the paper said. "Rather, broadcast licensees may hold out for a higher exit prices above their current projected market value."

In some cases, there may be competition among broadcasters to sell the spectrum, Guttman-McCabe said. "The numbers could go up, the numbers could go down," but even if broadcasters demanded three times more than the estimates, auctions would still raise about $28 billion for the U.S. treasury, he said.

The National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group representing TV stations, has been cool to the idea of incentive auctions. An NAB spokesman wouldn't directly comment on the CTIA/CEA paper.

The CTIA/CEA paper projects that no TV station outside the top 30 markets in the U.S. would have to relocate because of significant unused TV spectrum in those areas. In the top 30 markets, none of the top four stations or the public TV stations would have to move to meet the spectrum goal, Largent said. The paper estimates that about 630 TV stations would have move to new spectrum.

 

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