NAB, Sinclair File Initial Brief In Auction Challenge

The National Association of Broadcasters and Sinclair have filed the opening brief in their lawsuit challenging the FCC incentive auction. The NAB and Sinclair filed separate suits, but they were consolidated and granted expedited hearing by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

NAB and Sinclair tell the court it needs to reject the FCC's May incentive auction order to the degree that it adopts the TVStudy repacking methodology, "fails to protect against terrain losses, denies protection to areas that are currently unpopulated, and fails to protect populations served by fill-in translators (NAB's issues)."

Sinclair wants the FCC to vacate the orders' deadline of 39 months after the release of channel reassignments for broadcasters to cease broadcasting on their pre-auction channel reassignments.

Sinclair also says the FCC should not have allowed spectrum reclamation in markets where only one station offers up spectrum.

Also included in the filing was testimony from Nexstar chairman Perry Sook saying that the FCC's methodology for calculating coverage areas and interference (the much-maligned OET 69) would result in a population loss of 97.8% for one of it stations, or "essentially the loss of nearly its entire population served." "The FCC's new methodology produces reduced values for Nexstar's stations coverage area and population served," says Sook. "Those reductions will lead to decreased viewership and decreased revenue, and in once instance, will cause the station to become wholly unviable."

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which has intervened in the suit on the side of the FCC and its rules, also has issues with the TVStudy software, but has advised the FCC of a change it could make that it says can resolve problems like Sook's population loss.

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.