Republicans issue memo on incentive auction hearing


U.S. CongressThe House Subcommittee on Communications will be hosting all five FCC commissioners Wednesday 12/12/12 to see how things are cooking in the television incentive auction stewpot. And they’ve issued a memo that outlines the project.

Here are some of the highlights:

* They want to make sure that the auction clears the $7B necessary to build out a nationwide public safety network, a goal dating back to the aftermath of 9/11/01.

* Broadcasters “bid” the amount they would accept in return for either turning in their entire allotted bandwidth, move from UHF to VHF, or enter into a channel-sharing arrangement with another broadcaster.

* The FCC will reimburse moving costs of displaced broadcasters who choose to remain in business but are repacked, up to $1.75B.

* The FCC must take all reasonable steps to hold in confidence the identity of broadcasters who elect to participate in auctions.

* The Republican members of the committee see guard bands as an opportunity to bring in revenue wasted, do not want to see them widened, and in particular do not want to see them given away for the free use of unlicensed devices.

RBR-TVBR observation: It would appear that the Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, are not prepared to see broadcast television bulldozed, even as they seem to be eagerly anticipating the income potential of the incentive auction program. We would note that plenty of Democrats in Congress have spoken up in defense of local broadcast television. This is a good starting place, since it is still unclear just how many broadcasters are likely to enlist in this all-volunteer program.