Court Agrees to Fast-Track Auction Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has granted the National Association of Broadcasters request for an expedited hearing of its challenge to the incentive auction framework, and set Dec. 18 for final briefs.

NAB is challenging the way the FCC is calculating station coverage areas and interference. It argues it is disregarding the statute by using values different from those under a former calculation model/data and by not preserving coverage areas in that calculation. The incentive auction statute requires the FCC to make its best efforts to preserve coverage areas, and NAB says this doesn't cut it.

NAB had argued that without a fast-track, the decision might come after the FCC's planned mid-2015 auction date, which could lead to a re-auction and the expense and dislocation that could create. It asked, respectfully, for an answer by Sept. 5, and got it.

The FCC supported the expedited hearing. While saying it was not agreeing with NAB's criticism of the FCC's auction order, or that broadcasters would suffer irreparable injury absent the quick turn-around, it agreed that it was "generally in the public interest" to resolve the issue as promptly as possible.

To help the court, the order asks petitioners to limit the acronyms and abbreviations not in common parlance.

The briefing schedule is below, though the court said it might have to be adjusted if the FCC gets any more petitions to review the auction. The FCC pointed out to the court that NAB had proposed a briefing schedule that would have NAB's brief due prior to the window for others to seek review of the order. NAB says it doesn't know of any others, but the FCC said it wanted to reserve the right to argue that any subsequent challenges be included in an expedited schedule for briefs and oral argument.

Brief for Petitioner 10/06/14

(not to exceed 14,000 words)

Joint Brief for Intervenors in Support of Petitioner, if any 10/14/14

(not to exceed 8,750 words)

Brief for Respondents 11/13/14

(not to exceed 14,000 words)

Joint Brief for Intervenors in Support of Respondents, if any 11/20/14

(not to exceed 8,750 words)

Reply Brief for Petitioner 12/04/14

(not to exceed 7,000 words)

Deferred Appendix 12/11/14

Final Briefs 12/18/14

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.