FCC set to move on TV spectrum auctions


FCC Commissioners / May 2012A proposed framework for conducting congressionally-authorized auctions of television spectrum is making the rounds on the FCC’s 8th Floor ahead of a vote at the September Open Meeting. The proposal aims at a 2014 target date.

The next FCC public meeting is on the books for 9/28/12.

Whatever is presented that day for a vote will be a preliminary measure, open for commentary from stakeholders and the public.

According to reports, the goal is to finalize the rules by mid-2013 in order to kick off the actual auctions by mid-2014. If the FCC is able to pull off this schedule, it will beat the predictions of analysts who believe the process could take longer, even two or three years longer.

The idea is to clear a block of television spectrum for mobile broadband use, forcing television stations to move to lower frequencies. To make room for stations migrating south, television broadcasters will have the option of giving up their MHz swathe of spectrum and either agreeing to share a channel with another station or exit the business entirely. Those who return spectrum will get a share in the auction proceeds, and those forced to move will receive appropriate compensation from the proceeds for any expenses incurred.

The rest of the auction proceeds will go to the benefit of US taxpayers.

NAB pledged to work with the authorities while protecting the interests of its constituents. EVP Dennis Wharton stated, “NAB looks forward to working with the FCC and Congress to implement spectrum incentive auction legislation. We have no quarrel with television stations choosing to voluntarily participate in the auction process. Our overriding objective remains the preservation of a vibrant future for free and local TV stations that serve tens of millions of Americans every day with quality entertainment, local news, the most popular sports, and life-saving weather warnings.”

CEA’s Julie Kearney welcomed the news, saying, “CEA commends the Commission on the upcoming release of the notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to voluntary broadcast incentive auctions. The auctions will yield innumerable benefits for American consumers to access wireless broadband and ensure that devices such as smartphones and tablets can continue to connect to those networks. We applaud the FCC for its work in helping the U.S. maintain its leadership in global technology and innovation by making sure our wireless broadband products have more usable spectrum.”