On the agenda for the FCC Open Meeting next Friday is a bullet titled, “Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum through Incentive Auctions.” In essence the FCC Commissioners will be considering a proposal beginning the formal process towards a new auction of television spectrum for broadband use.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s office has offered a draft proposal to his fellow commissioners. As part of this proposal, the FCC is expected to seek public comment on a number of subjects ranging from the setup of the auction, compensation of participating parties, repacking of those not participating, geographic and national border issues, etc. Chairman Genachowski reportedly hopes the Commission will finalize auction rules in mid-2013 and complete the auction in 2014.
Earlier this year, Congress authorized this incentive auction in a bill extending the popular 2011 payroll tax cut. While that legislation included important protections for full power and Class A television stations, low power television is left in a precarious spot. Notably, in response to the FCC’s National Broadband Plan that suggests redirecting 120 MHz of current television spectrum for wireless broadband use, NRB filed public comments noting an auction's "substantial risks to NRB TV members, including the potential loss of spectrum, loss of coverage area, channel changes, and infrastructure costs." As the FCC works to advance this new spectrum auction, NRB continues to urge a process that fairly honors the services and investments of all Christian television broadcasters in their local communities.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations
Published: September 21, 2012