House E&C Leaders Praise Spectrum Auction


As the bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee see it, the FCC’s incentive auction was a success.

Just don’t tell that to CBS Inc. executives.

E&C Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), in a joint statement, said the incentive auction’s conclusion with more than $19 billion in bids “marks the end of the second largest auction and years of successful work in bringing market forces to bear on spectrum use policy.”

The four House members said the broadcast incentive auction “revolutionized the way that our nation makes spectrum allocation decisions by empowering broadcasters, businesses, networks, and consumers alike.”

They continued, “Not only did the auction successfully encourage investment and competition by bringing 70 MHz of licensed and 14 MHz of unlicensed spectrum to meet our nation’s wireless broadband needs, but also generated $7 billion for deficit reduction.”

The members of Congress thanked the broadcasters and wireless bidders “that ensured the auction was a success” and said they are looking forward to the FCC “working expeditiously to repack the remaining broadcasters without disruption to consumers.”

The comments came just hours before CBS COO Joe Ianniello said during his company’s Q4 conference call with investors that there was no incentive for the company to actively participate in the auction.

“We did not sell any full-power stations,” Ianniello said. “As the auction continued to drop rapidly in value, it just didn’t make sense for us to participate. We make so much more money by broadcasting … That’s our bread and butter.”

This means that any spectrum sold by CBS is tied to translators or low-power stations.