Some quick items to update some of our recent articles. The FCC has granted extensions of time to comment in two rulemaking proceedings, and released its tentative agenda for its next open meeting where it will adopt an initial order in the incentive auction proceeding. That’s the proceeding that we most recently wrote about here by which the FCC will begin the process of paying TV stations to surrender their licenses so that the spectrum can be repurposed for wireless broadband purposes. The FCC’s tentative agenda indicates that the Commission is sticking firm to its plans to adopt some basic rules for the incentive auction at its May 15 meeting. Apparently, other issues – including the details of the auction bidding procedures, the specifics of spectrum repacking for stations that keep their frequencies, the treatment of secondary services (LPTV and TV translators) and other issues – will be covered by later orders.
As for the extensions, the FCC has granted requests for extensions of time for public comment in two different FCC proceedings. In the proceeding on the potential abolition of the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity protections (about which we wrote here), which proposes to get rid of the FCC rules that allow local TV stations to force cable and satellite television companies to delete programming from distant TV stations that duplicates the programming that the local station carries, the FCC agreed to extend the comment deadline to June 26, and the Reply Comment Deadline to July 24. The request was made by the NAB, which needed time to hire experts to study the impact of these rules. The FCC also extended the deadline for comments in the proceeding to require local broadcast stations to come up with ways to broadcast emergency information in the language of any significant population in the their service area that did not speak English (which we wrote about here). The FCC issued a public notice extending the comment deadline to May 28, and the deadline for reply comments until June 12. The extension was granted following the request of MMTC (Minority Media Telecommunications Council), which was the proponent of the rule change. New dates to get in your two cents on these important proceedings.