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49 Federal Communications Law Journal 517 (1997)


Although relatively few provisions of the 1996 Telecommunication Act relate to digital broadcast television, these provisions have contributed to the ongoing debate over assignment of spectrum for DTV uses. Attention to the disputed issues of DTV has accentuated the differences between methods of spectrum management: how spectrum should be assigned among various services and users, and what roles the FCC and Congress should play. Two camps have emerged from the controversy: one viewing spectrum as a commodity that should be assigned by auction, the other viewing spectrum as a resource that must be allocated according to strict technical criteria and assigned sometimes by auction, sometimes not. In an order released as this article was going to press, the FCC adopted rules for the allocation spectrum for DTV. Although the DTV issues have been resolved (for the time-being, at least), examination of the process by which the Congress and the FCC allocated this spectrum will be helpful for future allocation of spectrum, for this or other uses.