NAB issues statement on Spectrum Auction R&O


Gordon SmithThe FCC released its broadcast spectrum incentive auction order 6/2. It’s looking to be a pretty complicated process—including the whole reverse auction roadmap—and has LPTVs in an uproar. Some 1,700 LPTV licensees with more than 10,000 built stations and CPs will be facing an unfunded mandate of over $1 billion in channel relocation costs. Some good news, though, as the Commission is promoting channel sharing and allowing a change to the city of licenses in sharing deals. In response, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith issued the following statement:

“NAB has deep reservations about the FCC’s incentive auction framework order released this week. Broadcasters supported the bipartisan Spectrum Act precisely because Congress captured the proper balance between repurposing spectrum for mobile broadband while holding local TV stations harmless in the process. As the two dissenting FCC Commissioners noted, however, the incentive auction order turns this carefully crafted balance on its head, transforming Congress’s desired win-win-win into a significant setback for local broadcasters and our tens of millions of viewers.

“The order’s fundamental flaw is that it ignores Congress’s clear direction to do no harm to broadcasters who choose not to participate in the voluntary auction. Instead, the majority goes so far as to suggest that the goal of repurposing broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband is superior, rather than equal to, that of maintaining a healthy and robust broadcast industry. Let’s be clear: not a single American will know or understand if their wireless carrier adds 10 or 20 new megahertz to its 150-plus megahertz stockpile. They will, however, be quite angry if they are suddenly deprived of access to local broadcasters’ news, entertainment and public safety information as a result of an auction gone awry.

“NAB still believes the auction can both be faithful to Congress and be successful. To that end, however, the FCC must implement policies that truly hold non-participants harmless. But if broadcasters are coerced through unrelated regulatory actions that damage the economics of our businesses — or if auction rules undermine the many public services we deliver today – then the auction ceases to be voluntary, and the balance Congress painstakingly achieved evaporates. Now is the time for the FCC to make good on its repeated promises not to damage a vibrant television business, and for Congress to exercise the proper oversight needed to preserve a free, local and lifeline programming source that is the envy of the world.”