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House Members Praise FCC Auction

The FCC got a bipartisan shout out from the Hill on the conclusion of the broadcast incentive auction (it hasn't quite closed, but the main auction is indeed over).

Issuing a joint statement Wednesday (Feb. 15)--the main auction concluded Feb. 10--Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Communications Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and ranking member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.).

They pointed out that it was the second-largest FCC auction--in terms of gross revenues--at over $19 billion and said it culminated "years of successful work in bringing market forces to bear on spectrum use policy."

The auction was created by legislation spearheaded by Energy & Commerce in the House--and Commerce in the Senate --so a victory at the FCC reflected on that legislative effort as well.

“The broadcast incentive auction revolutionized the way that our nation makes spectrum allocation decisions by empowering broadcasters, businesses, networks, and consumers alike," they said, clearly pleased with the effort. While the auction is concluding under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the heavy lifting on the planning and implementation came under his Democratic predecessors. 

"Not only did the auction successfully encourage investment and competition by bringing 70 MHz of licensed and 14 MHz of unlicensed spectrum to meet our nation’s wireless broadband needs, but also generated $7 billion for deficit reduction," they continued. "We thank the broadcasters and wireless bidders that ensured the auction was a success and are looking forward to the FCC working expeditiously to repack the remaining broadcasters without disruption to consumers. We will continue to work together to free up our airwaves and usher in the future of wireless broadband.”

Blackburn has said that spectrum use and policy will be priorities for her as new chair of the Communications Subcommittee.

The auction did not raise as much money as many had predicted--broadcasters were willing to give up 126 MHz, but wireless bidders were not willing to pay the $86 billion price tag, or successive price tags until the fourth stage's $10 billion and change.

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.