CTIA Seeks to Intervene for FCC in Auction Challenge

CTIA: The Wireless Association has filed a petition in support of the FCC and in opposition to Sinclair's challenge to the broadcast incentive auctions and any other cases that might be consolidated with it—the National Association of Broadcasters has also challenge one part of that order.

Sinclair says the FCC's May Report and Order providing a framework for the auction was illegal, arbitrary and capricious and has asked a D.C. federal appeals court to vacate it. NAB says the way the FCC is calculating coverage areas and potential interference to broadcasters repacked after the auction is illegal and could harm those broadcasters.

“CTIA supports the FCC’s efforts to implement the 600 MHz Incentive Auction, which is why we filed today a motion to intervene in Sinclair’s litigation challenging the FCC’s Incentive Auction Order," said CTIA VP, regulatory affairs, Scott Bergmann. "A timely and successful auction is key to the future of mobile broadband services in the U.S., and we continue to believe this auction will be a win for broadcasters, wireless companies and consumers.  We believe that the FCC has struck the right balance in implementing the bipartisan direction of Congress, and we will continue to work with all parties and in all venues to ensure that the Commission is ready to hold the auction on a timely basis and that consumers emerge as winners.”

CTIA said its interests would be "substantially affected by the Court's review of the challenged order." CTIA's interest is in getting broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband via the incentive auction. The FCC has just launched an educational packet on just how much those wireless operators might be willing to pay for that spectrum: $38 billion at the high end.

If the court ruled in the broadcaster's favor, it would almost certainly delay that auction, which is scheduled for mid-2015. The court has agreed to an expedited briefing schedule, but a decision either way may still not come out until early 2015.

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.