Pryor Eyeing Spectrum Oversight Hearing

According to industry sources, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) would like to tee up a spectrum/incentive auction oversight hearing for the first or second week of December. Pryor is chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, which has oversight of the FCC.

A Pryor spokesperson confirmed the senator would like to hold that incentive auction hearing, but added that "at this time, no date has been set and no witnesses have been invited.

The FCC has three, congressionally-mandated spectrum auctions on the horizon, the AWS auction, the H block, first in the queue with a Jan. 21, 2014 date, and the broadcast spectrum incentive auctions (reverse and forward), which the FCC has said it wants to conduct by the end of 2014.

In an August interview with C-SPAN, Pryor was asked about the state of the auctions. He said he would be "totally fine" with holding those auctions in 2014, but had heard "rumors" it could slide into 2015 and "guessed" it might just make that slide.

Broadcasters have been arguing that the FCC should not hold itself to 2014, but work on getting the auction "done right rather than right away." The FCC's incentive auction point people have suggested it can both get it right and meet that 2014 deadline, though that deadline is not set in stone.

New chairman Tom Wheeler has also indicated he wanted to try and meet that 2014 deadline.

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.