Clyburn Gets 'Dingellgram' With Auction Concerns

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is continuing to press his
concern over reallocation of broadcast spectrum following the incentive
auctions, this time sending
one of his famed "Dingellgrams"
seeking some answers from acting
FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn.

In a letter dated June 4, a copy of which was obtained by B&C, Dingell seeks answers to three
questions about the FCC's authority to take certain auction-related actions,
suggesting it may be exceeding its authority under the Middle Class Tax Relief
and Job Creation Act of 2012, legislation that included authorizing the
voluntary incentive auction of broadcast spectrum.

"I believe the Commission should adhere to
congressional intent and its mandate under law when [designing and executing
the auctions]," Dingell writes. "I am concerned that the Commission
may be acting or planning to act beyond such mandate in implementing the Act

The questions are: 1) "Does the commission believe it
must complete international coordination with Mexico and Canada prior to
reallocating and reassigning broadcast frequencies; 2) Does the commission
believe [incentive auction legislation] grants it authority to revise its
Office of Engineering and Technology Bulletin No. 69, a model used to predict
broadcast interference; 3) Does the commission believe [the legislation]
permits it to conduct a weighted reverse auction;" and 4) "What effect does the
Commission estimate that a weighted reverse auction would have on the number of
participants and the amount of spectrum recovered..."

In each case, he wants to know where the FCC is finding the
authority supporting its decision.

Broadcasters argue that the FCC should complete
international coordination before the auction, that the law did not grant
authority to revise the Bulletin 69 model for calculating stations coverage
areas and interference protections. And some broadcasters, notably the
Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, haveargued that the FCC should not weigh station values by population service orthe value of its station business.

Rep. Dingell, chairman emeritus of the House
Energy and Commerce Committee, has given Clyburn until June 28 to respond.

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.