The FCC’s planned incentive auction, by which the Commission hopes to pay broadcasters to surrender some of their TV licenses so that these stations’ spectrum can be repurposed for wireless broadband uses, is almost impossible to define in a simple blog post. The FCC issued its Order on the Incentive Auction process several months ago and, despite that order being over 300 pages long, many issues remain unresolved. Last month came the announcement that the National Association of Broadcasters had filed a court challenge to that order (on the first business day after the order was published in the Federal Register, meaning that there is still two weeks in which additional challenges may be filed in Court). While the NAB is seemingly limiting its current challenge to a few issues (according to a Blog post on the NAB website), there still are many other issues to which broadcasters have no final answers as there are further proceedings yet to come that will help to decide exactly how the process will play out for TV stations in the coming years. What did the NAB challenge, and what other issues for broadcasters are left to be resolved?
So far, the NAB has only needed to file a notice with the court stating that it is challenging the order. That is a very limited pleading that gives only the most cursory outline of the NAB’s grounds for its objections to the rules. Details of all of the grounds for the objections to the ruling do not need to be included in the appeal notice. Instead, the details will be set out in the NAB’s brief in the case, which will likely not be due for several months. In the interim, there have been some pleadings asking for expedited processing of the appeal, supported by both the NAB and the FCC, so as to not delay the auction (or to avoid having the auction take place before the appeal is resolved). From these pleadings, and from an NAB press release and the Blog post referenced above, the principal reasons for the NAB’s challenge can be discerned. Essentially, there appear to be two issues that are raised. Continue Reading