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ALEXANDRIA, VA., June 26, 2003 – For attribution to Andrew Wright, President of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, in response to today’s passage by the Senate Commerce Committee of the Sununu/Cantwell Amendment to the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (HR 1320).

The Sununu/Cantwell amendment is a dangerous legislative precedent that will result in the giveaway of publicly-owned spectrum, estimated to be worth more than $100 million.  It forces the FCC to forego the auction procedure required by current law and interrupts a pending appeal before a federal court on the FCC decision to assign terrestrial licenses by competitive bidding.

There is no valid public policy reason for Congress to give a potential competitor free spectrum to one politically-connected company.  Licenses for DBS, as well as other terrestrial wireless cable services, have been assigned by auction, raising $730 million and $1.2 billion, respectively, for the Treasury.  Providing an exception for a single company, Northpoint Technology, to get the spectrum to deploy its proposed terrestrial service without participating in the same auction process distorts the competitive telecommunications market.

Passage of this amendment sends the wrong message.  First, it says if you don’t like the result at the FCC, go ask Congress to change it.  Second, it says if your company’s business plan cannot attract sufficient capital to participate in a statutorily-required auction, get Congress to eliminate the auction and deprive the U.S. Treasury of payment for the use of extremely valuable public assets.
This amendment is opposed by the Bush Administration, the FCC, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association and the National Taxpayers’ Union .  SBCA calls on the Senate to remove this anticompetitive and controversial amendment when it votes on the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act later this session.

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association is the national trade organization representing all segments of the satellite industry.  It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of video, audio, data, music, voice, interactive, and broadband services.  The SBCA is composed of DBS, C-band, broadband, satellite radio, and other satellite service providers, content providers, equipment manufacturers, distributors, retailers, encryption vendors, and national and regional distribution companies that make up the satellite services industry. Additional information can be found at