Sinclair Challenges Incentive Auction in Court

Sinclair Broadcasting has challenged the FCC's broadcast incentive auction order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, essentially reading it the riot act.

Sinclair said that as a broadcaster it was “aggrieved and otherwise injured" by the decision.

Sinclair did not lay out an elaborate case for what it thought was wrong, or make any suggestions for how it could be fixed, as did the National Association of Broadcasters and noncommercial outlets in their respective petitions challenging portions of the order. Noncoms petitioned the FCC for the change, while NAB, like Sinclair, sought review by the D.C. court.

Sinclair took aim at it all.

Sinclair seeks review of the order on the grounds that it "was adopted in excess of the Commission's authority; violates the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act and violates Section 5(c) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 155(c); and is otherwise contrary to law."

It asked to “hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin, and set aside the Order and grant such additional relief as may be necessary and appropriate.”

Sinclair has been one of the strongest voices against auction participation and for pushing the FCC to give broadcasters the flexibility to be players in the broadband future without giving up their broadcast spectrum.

NAB has asked the FCC to rethink its interference calculation regime also arguing the auction is illegal as currently constituted, but suggested there is a way to fix it. Noncoms want assurances that a noncommercial channel assignment will be reserved in every market after the auction.

The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition has also sought clarification from the FCC, but at the invitation of the FCC.

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.