Senate Puts Limits on FCC’s Waiver Ability

Sep 29, 2004  •  Post A Comment

As part of a legislative compromise, the Senate on Wednesday afternoon approved an amendment that would limit the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to waive a requirement that could force the 75 TV stations operating on channels 63 through 69 to vacate their frequencies for public safety use as of Jan. 1, 2008.

The legislation originally approved last week by the Senate Commerce Committee gave the FCC such broad discretion to waive the spectrum eviction requirements that critics charged the requirements were essentially impotent. The approved amendment was included in a deal brokered by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and announced on the Senate floor Wednesday. It supposedly would ensure that frequencies end up with public safety entities that request them in their communities.

The actual language of the amendment is not expected to be released publicly until later Wednesday night or Thursday. The amendment was included in the National Intelligence Reform Act, which is being debated on the Senate floor this week. “It still provides the certainty that public safety is seeking,” Sen. McCain said.