Videohouse: FCC Is Changing Its Tune

In what has become rush hour in the D.C. federal court's spectrum auction challenge docket, LPTV owner Videohouse has fired back at the FCC for saying that granting its stay request would delay the auction by months.

The FCC said Friday that it could start the March 29 spectrum auction on time, despite the court's grant of a stay to Latina Broadcasters Thursday that restores it to auction eligible status.

The FCC had told the court in asking it to deny the stay that granting it could delay the auction by several weeks, but said that given the court's ruling (and the court's suggestion that the auction start need not be delayed), the FCC said it would start on schedule.

But since March 29 is only the date by which TV stations have to declare their participation—the bidding wasn't going to start until likely early May at the earliest without the stay—any delay, if there is one, may now actually come between that declaration and the FCC's release of a spectrum clearing target based on that information.

But the FCC also told the court that while granting the stay would not delay the auction, granting the Videohouse stay, which is of the start date, could add months to the auction.

Videohouse wasn't buying it.

It said the FCC had already claimed it could accommodate the petitioners if the court granted a stay before the March 29 election date. "Now the FCC states that 'inclusion of Videohouse in the auction, even provisionally, would substantially delay the auction by months.'"

Videohouse told the court to ignore that latest statement, calling it a "revised litigation position," and rely on the FCC's earlier representation that allowing Videohouse et al. in would not delay the start.

Videohouse claims it is just as entitled to relief as Latina.

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.