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Editorial: No Time to Stint

Broadcasters have been telling the FCC to loosen up a little bit regarding the upcoming spectrum incentive auction—the purse springs, that is.

Specifically, the National Association of Broadcasters has been arguing that the $1.75 billion set aside for station repacking expenses after the auction likely won’t be enough, and the commission should only seek enough reclaimed spectrum to cover all the moving within that budget.

The billions collected in the AWS-3 spectrum auction—almost $45 billion— relieved the incentive auction of any financial obligations outside of essentially paying for itself and compensating broadcasters.

The FCC wants to collect as much spectrum from as many willing broadcasters as it can, and a number of big players, including Fox and Ion, have signaled they may give up spectrum by moving channels and/or sharing.

The commission has signaled that it plans to deny broadcaster petitions to treat the payout as a budget rather than a cap. If that’s so, it’s a signal in need of an adjustment.

In keeping with the honey vs. vinegar equation in encouraging participation, Congress may want to revisit that statutory cap/budget of $1.75B.