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NAB Seeks Expedited Hearing of Auction Challenge

The National Association of Broadcasters wants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to put the pedal to the metal when it comes to setting a briefing and oral argument schedule for its challenge to the FCC's incentive auction or else the case may not be decided before the auction is over.

NAB Wednesday filed a motion for expedited review, saying the court should wrap up briefs before the end of the year. NAB wants a decision form the court on its motion by Sept. 5.

NAB is challenging the way the FCC is calculating station coverage areas and interference. It argues it is disregarding the statute by using values different from those under a former calculation model/data and by not preserving coverage areas in that calculation.

The incentive auction statute requires the FCC to make its best efforts to preserve coverage areas, and NAB says this doesn't cut it.

But the thrust of NAB's petition is not about the substance, but timing. "The incentive auction is scheduled for mid-2015. If this petition follows the standard briefing and argument timeline, however, the auction will take place before the case can be decided," said NAB, adding that it cannot recall any court vacating an FCC auction after it has occurred.

NAB, which has been focusing on the broadcasters staying in the businesses, still argues that one of the consequences of a court decision ordering a new auction would be that "broadcasters (like all other auction participants) would then be forced to bear twice the substantial, unrecoverable costs of preparing a bid."

It says the FCC has said the station repacking rules have to be resolved well before the auction.