CEA: Discouraged at Broadcaster Auction Suit

The Consumer Electronics Association is none too pleased with the National Association of Broadcasters' decision to sue the FCC over how the commission proposes to measure interference and station coverage areas for the broadcast incentive auction.

“It is discouraging to see the broadcast television industry reject the FCC’s carefully crafted compromises," said CEA President Gary Shapiro. "Litigating against the incentive auction undermines and delays innovation."

CEA has been pushing the FCC to get as much spectrum back from broadcasters as possible, arguing the public interest is better served with that spectrum in the hands of wireless carriers.

CEA members make TV receivers, but most TV is watched over a cable or satellite connection rather than over broadcast spectrum, and its members make more of the phones, tablets and pads that need wireless broadband for their video viewing.

“The FCC has worked tirelessly with stakeholders and broadcasters to set up a successful incentive auction that preserves the coverage area of broadcasters, while meeting Congress’ goal of opening up more wireless broadband spectrum that will lead to exciting new innovations, services and jobs," said Shapiro. "The plan is a win-win-win for broadcasters, consumers and our economy,” he added, echoing the incentive auction value proposition pitched by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The FCC says it has simply plugged in more current data so that its methodology better captures current coverage areas. The National Association of Broadcasters, which filed suit in a D.C. court Monday, counters that it is a methodology change that does not square with statute and will result in inaccurate coverage areas that could do damage to the auction and TV station prospects in repacking afterwards.

The FCC says it is confident the methodology squares with the law.

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.