Electronics association accuses broadcasting chief of undermining auctions

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Shapiro pointed to Smith's comment that he doesn't envy the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and that its job is "daunting." Smith had also said, “We’ve heard no hooves of a stampede. I find our members excited about their business, their futures and anxious to hold on to their spectrum.” 

Shapiro reminded Smith that "broadcasters do not legally own the spectrum at issue and have been assigned limited duration licenses." 

"Congress was extraordinarily generous in allowing broadcasters to be compensated for these limited duration licenses should they choose to offer them for auction," Shapiro wrote.

The legislation authorized the FCC to auction spectrum that currently belong to television broadcasters, splitting some of the revenue with the stations that choose to participate.

The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.

“NAB supported the voluntary incentive auction legislation passed by Congress and looks forward to working with the FCC and Congress to implement the bill,” Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the broadcasters, said in a statement.