NAB Challenges FCC Auction Public Notice

The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the FCC to reconsider some parts of its public notice on incentive auction procedures to reduce the potential interference to TV stations from wireless operators, and vice versa.

In a petition for reconsideration filed with the commission, NAB says they are limited and "targeted" asks that "do not require revisiting fundamental aspects of the commission's auction design."

The FCC is looking to start accepting applications from auction-interested broadcasters by Thanksgiving, and begin the auction March 29.

The targets are the FCC's 1) decision to repack some stations in the duplex gap, which NAB says fails to address the FCC's own argument for preserving the gap for wireless mics; 2) its standard for market variability and allowable impairment (interference) given recent "progress" in spectrum coordination with Canada and Mexico.

"On reconsideration, we urge the Commission to protect the duplex gap from any impairment, and preserve it for use by licensed wireless microphones. We also urge the Commission to take advantage of the progress it has made towards international coordination by lowering the nationwide standard for market variability to reflect the framework agreements reached with Canada and Mexico, which will largely constrain foreign impairments."

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which represents stations interested in the auction, does not support the revisit.

"While we have great respect for NAB and agree with them on many issues, this Petition appears to ignore the Kenny Rogers Rule about knowing when to 'hold em' and when to 'fold em'," EOBC said in a statement.

“We acknowledge that the EOBC agenda is different than ours," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. "To paraphrase the Steve Miller Band, their mission is to ‘Take the Money and Run.’ Ours is to ensure fairness for those stations who wish to voluntarily participate in the auction, while also preserving a vibrant local TV future for those choosing to stay in the business of free and local broadcasting.”  

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.