Leg must be approved by Congress in next few days

WASHINGTON — Top Capitol Hill pols overseeing the media biz are close to cutting a deal that would postpone the government’s Wednesday auction of broadcast spectrum used by TV channels 52-59.

Reps. W.J. “Billy” Tauzin (R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.), who lead the influential House Commerce Committee, were working closely with Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to settle on the exact terms of the delay. Legislation must be approved by Congress in the next few days, or else the bidding goes ahead.

The Federal Communications Commission has refused to delay this particular auction but did recently postpone until early next year the auction of spectrum used by TV channels 60-69.

Tauzin and other solons, as well as the White House, say it’s premature to begin auctioning off any analog spectrum, considering that broadcasters aren’t yet close to going all-digital. If the bidding happens now, Washington won’t get top dollar.

The FCC, however, said the auction already has been delayed several times and that Congress must be the one to stop it, not the agency.

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