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Dems Diss GOP Auction Draft

In a briefing memo for Friday's incentive auction hearing in the House Communications subcommittee, Democratic staffers expressed concerns over a provision in the Republican draft bill that would allow broadcasters to opt for deregulation over relocation costs.

"[T]he provision allowing television broadcasters to obtain regulatory relief in lieu of reimbursement for relocation costs may grant the FCC too much discretion in waiving 'any provision of law administered by the Commission, or any regulation of the Commission promulgated under any such provision' applicable to broadcasters," says the memo. "This could dramatically alter the relationship between broadcasters and their local communities and requires additional clarification."

Also troubling to Dems is a provision that would prevent the FCC from placing any network neutrality or various other conditions on any of the spectrum it auctions to wireless companies. The FCC placed open access conditions on wireless spectrum it auctioned the last time around, which did not sit well with Republicans. "Prohibiting the FCC from imposing conditions may not only undermine the agency's charge to serve the public interest but also may prevent the FCC from structuring auctions that could further competition, increase efficiency, and generate revenue," said the memo.

Those were just some of the criticisms that peppered the papers. "[T]he discussion draft does not reflect consensus on a number of significant provisions," the staffers wrote in what could be tabbed an understatement, with over a dozen sections and subsections troubling to them.

Also of concern include giving government users too much flexibility to retain mission critical spectrum and allowing for auction of D block spectrum rather than allocation.