By Paul Barbagallo
The Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with its plan to conduct the first-ever voluntary “incentive auction” of spectrum, in which TV broadcasters will have the opportunity to give back some or all of their licensed frequencies to the FCC so they could then be auctioned off to mobile network operators.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Sept. 7 sent the other commissioners his proposed rules for the auction with the aim of securing their votes at the agency's Sept. 28 open meeting. At that point, a formal notice of proposed rulemaking would be released, triggering a 60-day comment period for initial comments and a 45-day comment period for replies. The chairman's goal is finalize the rules by 2013, and hold an auction in 2014, an agency official confirmed to BNA.
In an emailed statement Sept. 7, Genachowski urged broadcasters not to pass up the opportunity to relinquish under-utilized spectrum and receive a share of the auction proceeds.
“Even as the commission draws on the expertise of the world's leading economists, auction design experts, and engineers, our ability to maximize the opportunities of spectrum will depend on the active engagement of the public and all stakeholders,” Genachowski said. “I urge broad participation by all. As I've stated before, we fully expect this process to strengthen both our mobile and broadcast industries, creating new opportunities and new benefits. In particular, many broadcasters will have a new and unique financial opportunity as a result of incentive auctions.”
Responding to the FCC's announcement, the National Association of Broadcasters pledged to work with the FCC and Congress to implement the act.
“[The association] has no quarrel with television stations choosing to voluntarily participate in the auction process,” Dennis Wharton, NAB's executive vice president of communications, said in a statement Sept. 7. “Our overriding objective remains the preservation of a vibrant future for free and local TV stations that serve tens of millions of Americans every day with quality entertainment, local news, the most popular sports, and life-saving weather warnings.”
In a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters' convention in Las Vegas April 16, Genachowski made it clear to broadcasters that any return of their spectrum will be purely voluntary. He further pointed out that $1.75 billion will be made available to compensate stations that choose not to participate in the auction and are then relocated to other channels. And, lastly, he noted that the law provides three options for TV station owners: contribute all 6 MHz of spectrum; agree to channel share; or move from UHF to VHF.
According to industry estimates, between 300 and 400 TV stations would need to be moved off of the broadcast-TV band to reclaim 120 MHz of spectrum.
To date, not one major TV broadcaster has publicly said it would give any of it back.
The FCC intends to shuffle some stations around in the band to create contiguous blocks of spectrum, which are more desirable to wireless carriers.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).