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May 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Pax may sue FCC over auction postponement

Paxson Communications chief Bud Paxson today said he probably would sue to overturn a Federal Communications Commission decision this afternoon that postponed the auctions of TV channels 60-69 until Jan. 14, 2003. If the auctions had been held June 19 this year as originally planned, Mr. Paxson was positioned to reap a substantial payoff from winning bidders by agreeing to clear his 19 TV stations from the band early.

“They [the FCC] may leave us no recourse but to go to the courts,” said Mr. Paxson, in a telephone interview, accusing the agency of caving to political pressure.

“The FCC is violating the law. It’s unbelievable that they would put us through this.” In a statement, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association applauded the postponement.

Under the decision, auctions of the rights to channels 52-59 remain slated for June 19 this year. But the FCC rules don’t assure broadcasters the same lucrative payoffs for clearing those channels that they stood to gain from clearing channels 60-69. The FCC said the postponement would give lawmakers an opportunity to reconsider the timing of the auctions for channels 60-69.

Senators request review of EchoStar-DirecTV merger: Eleven U.S. senators have asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to carefully scrutinize the planned $26 billion merger of EchoStar and DirecTV to ensure that rural consumers are not hit with higher prices and fewer services if the deal is approved. “The rural consumers who presently have a choice between two very competitive satellite providers could be subjected to monopolistic practices if the merger is approved,” they wrote. Signatories included Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis; Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn.; Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; and Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.

Dreyfuss to lend voice to History Channel miniseries: Actor Richard Dreyfuss, whose CBS series “The Education of Max Bickford,” was recently canceled by CBS, will be heard as the voice of Teddy Roosevelt in “TR and the Birth of a Superpower,” a four part miniseries about the nation’s youngest president that will run on the History Channel.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications