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Hundt denies pushing auction

FCC chairman Reed Hundt is dismissing assertions that he is privately encouraging members of Congress to auction off spectrum that broadcasters are counting on receiving for free during the transition to digital TV.

Broadcast industry lobbyists were abuzz here last week over a meeting between Hundt and Senate Commerce Committee chairman Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) during which Hundt is alleged to have told Pressler he supports the lawmaker’s attempt to force TV stations to bid for digital TV spectrum.

Hundt called the rumor “not true” and said he has not yet made up his mind on whether digital spectrum should be auctioned.

Pressler’s office confirmed that he and Hundt met, but a spokesman said it would be “inappropriate” to reveal details of the meeting.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters has long suspected Hundt of orchestrating behind-the-scenes support for auctions of digital TV channels.

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