The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently creating rules to conduct, for the first time, voluntary incentive auctions of spectrum, including broadcast TV spectrum, as authorized by Congress last year. NAB is working to ensure that the FCC implements the law as Congress intended and that broadcasters who do not volunteer are unharmed by the process.
The 2010 FCC National Broadband Plan recommended the reallocation of spectrum for wireless broadband use. In 2012, Congress passed legislation that included language granting the FCC authority to hold spectrum incentive auctions. Congress incorporated provisions to safeguard local television service during a voluntary incentive auction process. As directed by Congress, the incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum will have three major interrelated parts, including:
Several months later, the FCC approved a lengthy and complex rulemaking notice to launch the auction process. In response, NAB filed comments at the FCC noting that viewer protection should be of paramount importance during the auction process. NAB encourages the FCC to coordinate closely with Canada and Mexico to ensure viewers in border areas are not harmed. Broadcasters also ask the FCC to avoid interference between broadcasters and wireless carriers as it develops its new band plan for both services, and to ensure that broadcasters relocated during the repacking process are reimbursed for all reasonable costs in a timely and equitable manner.
NAB has made additional filings opposing the FCCâ€™s announced plans to alter the methodology used to calculate television stationsâ€™ population coverage and interference, which is contrary to the spectrum auction legislation.
Numerous members of Congress have weighed in urging the FCC to preserve a robust local broadcast system while executing a transparent auction process that follows the intent of Congress, including members of the Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michican, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington congressional delegations. Additionally, members of the Tri-Caucus, representing more than 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 17 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and 15 members of the Asian Pacific Caucus, wrote to the FCC requesting no degradation of service to communities that rely on over-the-air TV more than the general population.
In July, 57 members of Congress wrote to the FCC, urging the protection of over-the-air television in rural areas. In addition to this, 19 senators wrote to the FCC to urge sufficient international coordination prior to repacking local television stations. For millions in rural communities, free, over-the-air broadcast TV is the only way they receive local news and lifesaving information.
NAB continues to support truly voluntary spectrum incentive auctions that ensure viewers retain access to the local news, emergency information and quality programming on which they rely, and safeguard viewersâ€™ ability to take advantage of broadcast innovations on the horizon.
NAB is participating in the incentive auction rulemaking proceeding and will continue to emphasize that:
Congress should provide strong oversight to ensure that the FCC implements the voluntary incentive auction legislation as intended and that the viewer protections provided by the law are fully preserved.