NAB Slams Auction Vote

The National Association of Broadcasters blasted the FCC's incentive auction procedures vote Thursday, calling it a "major setback" for those looking for a successful auction that lowballs station prices, undercuts claims the auction is voluntary and hurts LPTVs and translators.

That echoed the comments of Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai at the meeting, who dissented from the item, which passed on pure party lines.

"The Commission’s order undermines certainty for reverse and forward auction bidders and irresponsibly undercuts the ability of broadcasters to keep local communities safe and informed," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.

Wireless mics used by broadcasters for newscasting are being placed in the duplex gap, so they would have to share that with TV stations in some markets. 

"In particular, despite releasing data designed to demonstrate how only a handful of markets would have TV stations in the duplex gap," said Wharton, "the order fails to conform to the Commission’s own numbers."

"The Commission has also made clear it has no interest in a 'near nationwide' band plan. Perhaps most disturbing is the revelation that it will penalize broadcasters who don't participate in the auction by making those stations the only ones 'eligible' to be placed in the wireless band."

"The great shame is that the Commission has a golden opportunity to set up the auction for huge success. Instead, the FCC undercuts the notion of a voluntary auction; low-balls payments to TV stations interested in exiting the business; establishes a haphazard variable band plan destined for decades of interference disputes; guarantees maximum loss of LPTV and translator service for millions of Americans in exchange for a handout of free spectrum with no public interest obligations to multibillion dollar companies; and jeopardizes lifeline news coverage of local TV stations in some of America's largest cities."

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.