FCC Open Meeting Incentive Auction Update: More of the Same

Posted on July 10th, 2013 by

At its June 27th open meeting, the FCC Acting Chair and two sitting Commissioners got an update and progress report on the Incentive Auction rulemaking from the Incentive Auction Task Force. If Commissioner Rosenworcel’s issued statement is any measure, there hasn’t been much progress.

Rosenworcel said that “we are at the early stages” of conducting the incentive auctions, and flatly declared that “we need to make progress” and “move forward”, even without a full complement of commissioners. She called for simplicity, fairness and balance for stakeholders.

For more transparency, Rosenworcel called for public hearings on the auction and details of its design, as well as direct outreach to every broadcaster in the top 30 markets. In addition, she proposed that the band plan debate must end, and called for the band plan to be adopted by the end of the third quarter of 2013. Finally, Rosenworcel suggested an order to decide and remove from the ongoing NPRM those issues that are not in dispute. We think that list would be very short indeed.

It has been over two months since the FCC’s comment period ended on the incentive auctions, though they have periodically floated alternatives and other matters for comment. In our view, there remains a significant amount of uncertainty, as opposed to the clarity and transparency the FCC pledged from the beginning. That doesn’t bode well for keeping the FCC on track to its goal of a 2014 incentive auction.

As a side note, a copy of the open meeting presentation was not published or available on the FCC’s website before or after the presentation. Loving that transparency.