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TV broadcast frequencies may soon be sold to cell phone and internet services
ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. - Millions of households could lose their favorite channels and programs in the near future. That's because the Federal Communications Commission plans to auction off TV broadcast frequencies to cell phone and internet service providers. The FCC says there's a growing demand for wireless networks and it's necessary that the demands are met to support the economy, public safety and health care. The National Association of Broadcasters estimates nearly 20 percent of Americans rely on Free TV. Escambia County Resident Bob Ward is one of them. "Ever since TV came on the air, I can certainly remember when we didn't have it, it's always been free," Ward said. But that could change because the FCC plans to auction off frequencies. Think of frequencies as plots of land. Each TV station set to one frequency and uses it to give you one or more channels. After the auction, there will be less space for stations to broadcast and some stations will have to move. With less open frequencies available, the neighborhood gets more crowded. That's what Vernon Watson worries about. Ward owns WBQP, a low-power local TV station that broadcasts on eight channels. "If the FCC can't find individual channels for all the one's they displaced, they're talking about channel sharing," Watson said. "Rather than having eight channels, I might be forced to two or three channels." A spokesman for U.S. Congressman Jeff Miller says the FCC will not force stations from their space. It's a voluntary auction and Congress will have oversight to make sure everyone is playing by the rules. With less frequency and fewer channels, viewers and broadcasters could explore the possibility of cable and satellite, but that will cost money. And people like Bob Ward say they've tried cable before and will not try it again. "Got so aggravated with it, kept going up in price," Ward said. "It just wasn't worth it." If you'd like to voice your concern with losing free TV channels, you can voice your concern here. We should also point out that Parent Company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, has a dog in this hunt.
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