FCC to Court: Deny Videohouse Spectrum Auction Stay

No surprise here, but the FCC has told a federal court to deny LPTV owner Videohouse's request for a stay of the March 29 incentive auction start.

The FCC denied a similar stay request from Videohouse, which then went to the court to try, try again.

The FCC pointed out in a footnote that Fifth Street and WMTM, LLC, which are party to the underlying auction challenge, were not part of the stay request.

Videohouse has asked the court to remand the FCC's auction framework, and says the auction should be stayed until the court rules on that underlying challenge — oral argument is not scheduled until May 9, which could be about the time that the FCC starts the reverse auction (March 29 is the date by which stations eligible for the auction must decide whether and how to participate.

In its response, which was due by 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, the FCC suggests the facts are clear and don't meet the high bar, including likelihood of success in the underlying case, that a petitioner must meet to get a stay.

"Videohouse does not contest the Commission’s determination that only licensees of stations that had a full-power or Class A low-power license or pending application for a license as of Feb. 22, 2012, have a statutory right to repacking protection and eligibility to participate in the auction," the FCC said, adding: "There is no dispute that WOSC — Videohouse’s low-power television station in Pittsburgh — did not have a Class A license or pending application for such a license as of that date."

The FCC says that given its "broad discretion in implementing the Spectrum Act and in drawing a line between stations that are eligible for the auction and those that are not," Videohouse can't demonstrate that the FCC abused its discretion by excluding it.

The FCC also said Videohouse is unlikely to suffer irreparable injury without a stay pending review, while delaying the auction would cause substantial harm to other parties and the public interest.

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.