Can We Talk? FCC Asked to End Quiet Period

Former Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC) executive director Preston Padden wants the FCC to let broadcasters start talking now that their part of the spectrum auction is over.

TV stations in the auction were subject to FCC prohibitions on communications (to prevent possible collusion). While at presstime the auction was still ongoing, broadcasters' reverse auction portion has wrapped up and their final payout of $10 billion has been set—the additional bidding price increases will go to deficit reduction.

"Because all auction bidding by broadcasters has concluded, the Commission should immediately end the 'Quiet Period' for broadcasters," Padden said in informal comments.

Padden also wants the FCC to allow stations to temporarily share channels during the TV station post-auction repack. 

There will be some stations in the daisy chain or repacking that could prove problematic. Padden says that it would do no harm, and could expedite the transition, for the FCC to "make available to any interested party all Commission tools and data that could help to identify stations that present a 'bottleneck' to the transition."

EOBC was comprised of stations interested in putting spectrum in the auction but disbanded after quiet period kicked in.

The FCC nixed certain communications between and among participants in both the reverse (broadcaster) auction and forward (wireless) auction. But it also recognized that companies need to keep conducting their businesses.

The prohibitions do not include necessary communication of bidding or strategy information to third parties including legal counsel, lenders or consultants, so long as the licensee takes steps to insure that third party does not share it with other auction participants.

John Eggerton

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.