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The government is “letting them squat on spectrum,” he said.

Mr. Shapiro advocates a voluntary auction of spectrum for broadcasters that want to sell to broadband companies. He estimates this could bring the government $31 billion in revenue.

Plenty of smaller broadcasters struggling to turn a profit will be more than happy to sell, he said.

“If you’re the second-tier broadcaster in New York City, right now, you’re not making that much money. You would get tremendous opportunity to make money in an auction.”