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FCC Supports Fast Track for NAB Auction Challenge

The FCC said Thursday it supports the National Association of Broadcasters' request for expedited hearing of NAB's challenge to a portion of the incentive auction rules.

While saying it was not agreeing with NAB's criticism of the FCC's auction order, or that broadcasters would suffer irreparable injury absent the quick turn-around, it agreed that it was "generally in the public interest" to resolve the issue as promptly as possible.

The FCC did note that NAB has proposed a briefing schedule that would have NAB's brief due prior to the window for others to seek review of the order. NAB says it doesn't know of any others, but the FCC said it wanted to reserve the right to argue that any subsequent challenges be included in an expedited schedule for briefs and oral argument.

NAB is arguing that unless the court puts the pedal to the metal, a decision could come after the planned mid-2015 incentive auction, a decision that could result in a re-auction that would increase the expense and uncertainty.

NAB is challenging the way the FCC is calculating TV station interference protections and coverage areas, saying it does not square with statute. 

"Now that the FCC has consented to the NAB's motion for expedited treatment it is clear that the speculation about delay of the auction was completely unfounded," said Preston Padden, executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, whose members could give up spectrum for auction if the price is right and have supported keeping the FCC timetable of a mid-2015 auction intact.