Michigan delegation queries FCC on auctions


GavelLike a number of states, Michigan is close enough to the border with a sovereign nation that the channels it has available for broadcast are subject to international treaty. Its legislators asked the FCC for an update on how international negotiations are going in advance of next year’s planned incentive auction of television spectrum.

The proximity of Canada to Michigan will greatly limit the room available to repack the state’s television stations, and its US legislators want to make sure broadcast service continues unimpeded in the aftermath of the project.

Both of the state’s US senators – Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), signed the letter, along with 14 reps, including key members of the House like Fred Upton (R-MI), John Dingell (D-MI) and John Conyers (D-MI).

Here are the questions they want answered by 4/9/13:

1. What is the current status of coordination efforts with the Canadian and Mexican governments?

2. What is the Commission’s timeline for international coordination?

3. What are the significant milestones that must be reached to complete the coordination?

4. Who will represent the FCC during these discussions? What other U.S. government officials will be participating?

5. When does the FCC expect the coordination efforts to be finalized with Canada and Mexico? Is there a target date for completion?

The delegations from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington has all weighed in with the FCC on this topic in addition to the Michigan group.

RBR-TVBR observation: Is the 2014 target date for the auction realistic? Count us among the skeptics. There are numerous technical issues still to be resolved, and there is still no clear evidence that enough television licensees are willing to participate. Add in the international implications and it just seems unlikely that we’ll be on the countdown to auctions at this time next year.