The legal monkey wrenches were flying last week as the days marched toward the March 29 start date for the broadcast incentive auction.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said it would not hear oral arguments in the Videohouse station challenge to auction participation until May, which means the court could render a decision about the time the FCC was hoping to be wrapping up the reverse auction (broadcasters) and starting the forward auction (wireless and perhaps cable operators bidding on that spectrum).
Elsewhere, the FCC denied Latina Broadcasters’ challenge, which could mean more work for the same court.
In the Videohouse challenge, the court did expedite a hearing schedule, but denied the request that it wrap it up before March 29, thus the May oral argument date.
In the latter challenge, Latina Broadcasters of Daytona Beach, which the FCC had identified as auction eligible at an opening bid price of over $80 million before then deciding Feb. 12 it was ineligible after all, had asked the FCC to stay that reversal of fortune and let it participate in the auction provisionally while the D.C. court heard its challenge. Latina also asked that the auction start be delayed if the FCC did not want to stay the Feb. 12 decision.
The FCC denied both requests. Latina's lawyer plans to ask the same court to stay the FCC Feb. 12 decision while it hears the challenge, or delay the auction.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.