FCC: Incentive Auction Will Launch on March 29

The FCC says the spectrum auction will start March 29, on schedule, even with the news that a federal court is allowing an LPTV station owned by Latina Broadcasters of Daytona Beach back into the auction.

"In response to last night’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit, we will permit Latina Broadcasters to participate provisionally in the Incentive Auction, subject to the outcome of judicial review," the FCC said.

That review won't be completed until at least September -- when oral argument has been scheduled.

"The auction will commence on Tuesday, March 29, as scheduled, the FCC continued. It had argued that letting Latina back in could delay the auction by several weeks, but that could have been the completion rather than the start.

The FCC said it was also supplementing its brief with a letter to the court "explaining that, while the Court expressed its expectation that allowing Latina to participate will not cause the auction to be delayed, granting Videohouse’s request for a stay or provisional participation will cause substantial delay and resulting harm to the public.”

The court said it had checked the FCC's web site and it appeared that the data showed the FCC was already including Latina in its calculations. The FCC initially told Latina it was eligible, then on Feb. 12, a month after the deadline for applicants -- Latina applied -- said that had been a mistake.

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.