McCain: Charge for b’cast license

WASHINGTON – If Senate Commerce Committee John McCain (R-Ariz.) has his way, the FCC will never again hand over a broadcast license without charging a hefty fee.

In a letter to FCC chairman Reed Hundt, McCain last week urged the commission to hold off on awarding any new broadcast licenses until Congress enacts legislation requiring the auction of currently unused frequencies. “In my judgment it would be unconscionable for the commission to give away new television and radio licenses without a guarantee that the public would receive the benefits to which it is entitled for use of its property,” McCain wrote.

In the past, the FCC has awarded licenses under so-called competitive criteria. Under that system, the FCC would decide which applicant was most qualified for the broadcast license. In 1993, the U.S. Court of Appeals threw out the criteria.

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