Lawsuits and Verbal Sparring Mark the Incentive Auction Landscape

Posted on September 22nd, 2014 by

On the heels of the NAB lawsuit filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Sinclair Broadcasting has filed its own lawsuit in the same court. Sinclair asserts that the FCC exceeded the authority Congress allowed them, and abused its discretion in adopting the Incentive Auction Report & Order. The lawsuit asks the court to set aside the R&O.

Outside of the courts, we counted 32 petitions for reconsideration of the R&O filed at the FCC by broadcasters and broadband companies. The FCC probably won’t get to those until later this year or early next year. Petitions for reconsideration are a much slower way to challenge an FCC action, and can themselves ultimately result in legal challenges in the courts if the petitioner isn’t happy with the FCC’s decision on reconsideration.

Meanwhile, various FCC and NAB members exchanged verbal volleys in the past week, with the FCC accusing NAB of trying to delay the auction with its lawsuit, and the NAB responding that it filed early and asked for expedited action, and that any delay would be on the FCC’s hands if the court finds that the FCC’s R&O has legal defects.

Still no word on the FCC’s outreach to broadcasters about the potential value of their spectrum. However, the office of engineering and technology has an item on circulation with the Commissioners related to an update to the OET-69 software, which is probably a partial response to various objections raised by NAB and other commenters.