Skip to main content

FCC Commissioners: FCC Needs to Review Designated Entity Rules

On a panel at the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council Access to Capital Conference in Washington Tuesday (July 29) the FCC commissioners Tuesday agreed that the FCC needs to look at revamping its designated entity rules [the chairman had a previous engagement, and so sent a brief video greeting].

MMTC has been pushing for a review of those rules to insure that minorities and women are not excluded from the move to wireless communications, as many were in the rise of broadcasting and cable.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said that, no matter what the pressure to do otherwise, she would not support the notion that entrepreneurship opportunities are reserved for a particular class. She vowed that the commission would do all it can, in a legally sustained way, to promote meaningful participation for small and diverse businesses.

Commissioner Ajit Pai said that the key to incentive auction participation, and that one way that he has proposed it allowing people to bid on smaller economic areas, which he said would allow more smaller DE's to bid in the upcoming AWS-3 and broadcast incentive auctions.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said that court decisions including Adarand and Council Tree have made DE rules less effective, and a review is necessary.

Commissioner O'Rielly said he was optimistic the incentive auction would be "very successful." To that point, he said the FCC had to balance helping designated entities with raising enough money for funding FirstNet, next-generation 911 and deficit reduction.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced an incentive auction timeline last month, that includes opening a proceeding to review the DE rules, "including whether any revisions made to the DE rules should apply to the incentive auction."

MMTC wants the FCC to move swiftly on the item so changes could come before the AWS-3 auction scheduled for November--the incentive auction is scheduled for mid-2015.

MMTC exec Nicol Turner-Lee asked Commissioner O'Rielly when he thought that item would appear. He said he did not control the calendar and joked that she should ask the "chairman's video" that question.

A Wheeler spokesperson said the chairman had a number of "previously scheduled meetings," which was why he was not in attendance.

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.