When the FCC is bidding out spectrum or a broadcast license, designated entities are given a leg up so that they can compete with larger, established organizations. MMTC is putting forth an argument to modify the DE preference to a new Overcoming Disadvantage Preference to further the diversity among FCC licensees.
MMTC says that ODP would “…amend the Commission’s current DE rules in an effort to enhance the pool of qualified applicants for licenses. Currently, the rules allow small and rural businesses to qualify as DEs for auction purposes. The ODP would assist additional candidates to compete effectively in the auction process. ODP could also be applied to broadcast auctions and to non-auction decisions such as non-comparative waivers.”
The organization further explained that “…ODP is a race and gender-neutral preference that would focus solely on the experiences and efforts of an individual person. These experiences could be physical and mental disabilities, disadvantages flowing from socioeconomic status, or from unequal access to education and jobs.”
MMTC says that those who have medical disadvantages or being born into a low-income family have a demonstrably more difficult time completing college or starting up a successful small business. Those who have overcome such hurdles, it suggests, should have a preference when it’s auction time at the FCC.
MMTC explained, “Two government issues ODP squarely addresses are diversity of ownership and competition. As discussed above, certain groups have a history of difficulty in obtaining an FCC license due to market entry barriers such as discrimination, and changes in broadcast and wireless licensing procedures. ODP would encourage competition by expanding the pool of Commission licensees, thereby providing additional opportunities to highly qualified applicants with challenging personal experiences and posses the drive to succeed. As stated in the Recommendation, ODP does not raise Equal Protection issues that would trigger strict scrutiny review because award preferences are race and gender neutral.”
MMTC said the unjust enrichment rules already in place would prevent a an ODP candidate to successfully obtain a license, and then turn around and sell it for profit.
MMTC President/Executive Director David Honig was joined by Joycelyn James, Latoya Livingston and Jacqueline Clary in signing off on the document.