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Thanks, But No Thanks

Broadcasters have been asking for more information on how the Federal Communications Commission might repack and reassign TV stations and channels after the coming incentive auctions. But after seeing the FCC’s first public notice on the subject, the National Association of Broadcasters might regret bringing it up in the first place.

For one thing, the data drop came out less than 24 hours before a hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee on the incentive auctions, during which the FCC’s repacking plan was set to be the subject of conversation and debate. NAB exec Rick Kaplan, the former chief of the FCC’s wireless bureau, was a witness, and pointed out that trying to vet a data drop the day before the hearing was not exactly what the NAB had meant when it called for more transparency. An FCC source insisted the timing of the public notice was coincidental.

The other problem was that the data included the latest iteration of repacking software that Kaplan said was unlawful and unhelpful. The NAB has argued that the FCC should use the same model that was in effect when the auction legislation was passed, and that its new iterations are “wildly inaccurate” and shrinking broadcaster coverage areas.

The FCC says the methodology has not changed and that only the data is newer— and better.