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For immediate release
June 15, 2000
Siriol Evans

NPR, APTS and CPB Appeal FCC's Decision to Subject Non-Commercial Broadcasters to Spectrum Auctions

Washington, DC -- National Public Radio, Inc. (NPR)®, the Association of America's Public Television Stations (APTS) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) have appealed in federal court to reverse a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling that forces non-commercial broadcasters to bid in the open market for new, "non-reserved" radio frequencies and television channels. (Non-reserved spectrum refers to radio or television bandwidth that has not been reserved solely for non-commercial, educational stations.) On June 12, 2000, the three public broadcasting organizations filed a joint Petition for Review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The petition appeals the FCC's June 8, 2000 decision to auction non-reserved spectrum to the highest bidder, even in cases where one or more of the competing applicants propose non-commercial, educational stations.

Because the Communications Act categorically exempts non-commercial, educational applicants from auctions, NPR, APTS and CPB believe that the FCC decision is in clear violation of the law. Previously, instead of auctioning spectrum to the highest bidder, the FCC conducted a comparative process designed to weigh the merits of competing applicants to determine which one would be granted spectrum. Last week's FCC decision affects both pending and future spectrum applications.

"Requiring non-profits to bid for spectrum is bad public policy," said NPR President and CEO Kevin Klose. "Pricing spectrum beyond the limited means of community groups, educational institutions and other potential non-commercial broadcast applicants can do nothing but limit access to spectrum and reduce the diversity of radio and television voices."

Renowned for its journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, NPR reaches a growing audience of nearly 15 million Americans each week via more than 644 public radio stations. NPR's member stations are licensed to communities, local school boards, Native American tribes, colleges and universities, and are significant producers of local, regional and national programming. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR WorldwideSM, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable.

APTS is a non-profit membership organization whose members comprise nearly all of the nation's 353 public television stations. APTS represents its membership on a national level by presenting the stations' views to the FCC, Congress, the Executive Branch and to other Federal agencies and policy makers.

CPB is the private, non-profit corporation authorized by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 to facilitate and promote a national system of public telecommunications. Pursuant to its authority, CPB provides millions of dollars of grant monies annually for support and development of public broadcasting stations and programming.