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EOBC Battles 'Devaluing' Broadcast Auction Spectrum

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition is pushing back on efforts by Sprint to insure the FCC reserves reclaimed broadcast 600 MHz low-band spectrum for nondominant carriers, like Sprint.

The FCC is already planning to set aside at least 30 MHz of that spectrum for competitive carriers — Verizon and AT&T have the majority of it already.

Sprint supports requests by others to increase the reserve of to 40 MHz (which would allow for two new competitive 20 MHz national wireless offerings. But it says particularly problematic is the FCC proposal to delay the reserve block until later in the auction and after certain financial targets are met, which it says could mean the FCC having to pay broadcasters more in the reverse auction.

Sprint is suggesting setting the reserve at the beginning of the auction.

Doing that, as well as reducing the spectrum the two largest carriers can bid on will devalue the broadcast spectrum, something EOBC does not want to see happen.

“It is beyond ridiculous for Sprint to file today an ex parte claiming the critical importance of 600 MHz spectrum a day after its CFO, Joe Euteneuer, claimed that Sprint doesn’t really need it saying 'The 600 MHz auction is something we're looking at but not necessarily something we need to do.' (FierceWireless, 5/19/15)," said EOBC executive director Preston Padden. "A classic case of Wall Street candor contradicting lobbying hyperbole."

Elsewhere on the potential spectrum devaluing front, EOBC told the FCC that it should certainly provide waivers for stations that can't meet the current 39-month deadline for moving to a new channel after the post-incentive auction repack, but should not simply extend that deadline. The National Association of Broadcasters has said the hard deadline is unreasonable and illegal.

In an informal comment to the FCC, Padden said that while EOBC is "sensitive" to NAB's concerns, a waiver route is best. He said a wholesale extension would reduce the value of broadcast spectrum in the auction.

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.