Rev. Jackson Lauds FCC DE Move

Rainbow PUSH founder and president Rev. Jesse Jackson Friday praised FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's circulation of a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing changes to its designated entity and joint bidding rules for spectrum auctions to make it easier for those small businesses to participate.

Designated entity (DE) is the category that the FCC uses to grant bidding credits to small, often minority owned, businesses to give them a better shot at competing with larger companies for spectrum.

Rainbow PUSH says minority owned and small business spectrum asset ownership has been "dismal" due to a lack of DE policy reforms, despite Congress' mandate that the FCC promote those small and minority-owned businesses.

“The Commission’s release of the NPRM signals an important message about the DE program,” said Jackson in a statement. “The opportunity to compete in upcoming auctions is important to minority businesses – incumbents and new entrants seeking to expand their spectrum holdings.  We just hope that this process will generate updated rules that ensure DE participation in next year’s auction."

That is the broadcast incentive auction, although the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council had hoped the FCC would act in time for it to help bidders in the AWS-3 spectrum auction in November. Now it is likely only a waiver process, like the one used to grant DE status to Grain Management, can help expand DE participation in that auction.

The FCC caught flak from Republicans and others for granting minority-owned Grain a waiver, which it needed since the tower company's leases with major carriers would have prevented it from qualifying under current rules.

The DE changes in Friday's NPRM would include not making leases with big carriers a de facto bar on DE bidding credits.

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.