Promoting Spectrum Policies that Serve the Public

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently creating rules to conduct voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum as authorized by Congress in 2012. NAB is working to ensure that the FCC implements the law as Congress intended, advocating for fair rules for broadcasters who choose to participate in the auction, as well as stations that remain on the air following the auction.

The 2010 FCC National Broadband Plan recommended the reallocation of broadcast TV spectrum for wireless broadband use.

In 2012, Congress passed legislation that included language granting the FCC authority to hold broadcast spectrum incentive auctions. Congress incorporated provisions to safeguard local televisions stations during a voluntary incentive auction process. As directed by Congress, the incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum will have three major interrelated parts, including:

  1. A reverse auction in which TV station volunteers will submit bids to voluntarily relinquish some or all of their spectrum in exchange for payment;
  2. A repacking of the broadcast TV band to free up a portion of the UHF band for alternative uses; and
  3. A forward auction for those bidding on newly available spectrum.

In 2014, the FCC voted to adopt an order setting forth certain initial rules for the auction. NAB expressed disappointment in the order, which does not ensure protection of broadcasters who choose not to participate in the auction.

In August 2015, the FCC adopted a Public Notice spelling out additional rules and procedures for the auction. NAB expressed concern that these rules will create an unstable band plan that will result in extensive interference disputes. NAB is also concerned that these rules may undercut broadcasters' ability to cover breaking news in some markets.

Broadcasters have repeatedly held that protecting viewers should be one of the FCC's central goals during the auction process. NAB has encouraged the FCC to coordinate closely with Canada and Mexico to ensure viewers in border areas are not harmed. Broadcasters have also asked the FCC to avoid interference between stations and wireless carriers as it develops its new band plan for both services, and to ensure that broadcasters relocated during the repacking process are held harmless. Congress has provided strong oversight to ensure that broadcast television viewers across the nation retain access to the local news, emergency information and quality programming on which they rely. In dozens of letters to the FCC, members of Congress have weighed in on the auction process, asking for transparency following the intent of Congress; protections for low-power television and translator services; coordination with Mexico and Canada to guarantee viewers in border areas as not unduly harmed and assurances that broadcasters relocated during the repacking process are reimbursed for all reasonable costs in a timely and equitable manner.

The Fiscal Year 2016 report for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government addresses concerns over broadcast relocation and "strongly encourages the FCC to continue to work with broadcasters to develop a reasonable framework for repacking to ensure a successful voluntary auction."

NAB Position NAB continues to support a truly voluntary spectrum incentive auction that ensures viewers retain access to the local news, emergency information and quality programming on which they rely, and safeguard viewers' ability to take advantage of broadcast innovations on the horizon.

NAB is participating in the incentive auction rulemaking proceeding to advocate for the best rules possible for those who choose to participate in the auction as well as those who do not. We will continue to emphasize that:

Action Needed
Congress must 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.

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