NAB Appeals TV Incentive Auction Report & Order

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by

It took awhile, but the FCC finally published its June 2014 TV Incentive Auction Report & Order in the Federal Register, which started the countdown for legal challenges to be filed. The National Association of Broadcasters wasted no time, taking potentially the fastest path to review by filing a petition with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The NAB’s petition alleges that the FCC’s decision to use its new TV Study software to compute television coverage areas pre- and post-auction wrongly reduces the value of spectrum or viewing audience. According to NAB, the FCC’s action thwarts Congress’ intent because it puts pressure on broadcasters to participate, and is therefore not truly voluntary.

An NAB press release made clear that the legal filing is not intended to delay the auction, but rather to correct its course by ensuring that broadcasters are not adversely affected. The FCC has responded with its own press release, stating that its Order complies with Congress’ mandate. We kind of thought they would say that, as they went to great pains in the Order to explain their reasoning and address broadcaster concerns.

The court will now set a briefing schedule hearing the case. It is not yet clear whether the case will be heard on an expedited basis. While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has suggested a 2015 date for the auction, some are already suggesting that 2016 is more realistic.

We continue to await important, promised steps from the FCC related to the TV auction, including an outreach to stations on the value of their spectrum, a rulemaking on how to calculate total post-auction interferences to stations, an NPRM on how to help displaced LPTV and TV translator stations.