FCC Announces New Timeline for Spectrum Auctions

December 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, published a blog post last week announcing changes to the FCC’s planned timeline for broadcast spectrum incentive auctions. Originally planned for the beginning of 2014, the auctions are now targeted for mid-2015. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) appreciates this more realistic schedule, which gives the FCC more time to ensure that viewers aren’t needlessly harmed by hasty changes to our communications infrastructure.

In his testimony during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on spectrum this week, the National Association of Broadcasters’ spectrum expert Rick Kaplan, noted that an “unduly rushed” process could threaten the success of the auction.

Kaplan raised several essential components in crafting a successful auction. Among them, he urged the FCC to “make all reasonable efforts to preserve non-auction participants’ coverage areas and populations served.” Post-auction, television stations that choose to remain on the air will go through a process called “repacking,” in which stations may have to move channels to create large blocks of spectrum. TV viewers should not lose access to channels that remain on the air as a result of a poorly managed repacking process. Kaplan added that a successful auction includes developing a good long-term plan that ensures rural and minority viewers do not lose free TV service.

Avoiding harm to viewers is a top priority for broadcasters and the millions of viewers who rely on broadcast television. Broadcast stations provide America’s favorite sports and entertainment programming – including more than 90 of the 100 highest-rated television shows – but that’s just the beginning. Stations have an unparalleled commitment to serving in communities across the country, providing life-saving emergency information, local news and meaningful public service.

Broadcasters have maintained from the beginning of the broadcast spectrum incentive auction process that the most important goal is getting the auction done right, not merely as quickly as possible. This new, more realistic timeline is a victory for viewers across the country.

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