Dropping Broadcasters’ Auction Muzzle Draws Cheers, Carriers Still Muted

logo-fccUPDATE: Reaction has been positive since word came from the FCC that it is partially lifting the ban on broadcasters discussing their involvement in the incentive spectrum auction. “Now that the final stage rule has been satisfied, communications between broadcasters regarding reverse auction bidding and results can have no effect on bidding in the reverse auction,” the Media Bureau said.  

But to be clear, the limited waiver is only for broadcasters in the reverse auction. Wireless companies bidding on broadcast spectrum in the forward auction are still affected by the communications ban — which prohibits them from discussing bids and bid strategies to prevent collusion.   

With bidding in the forward auction heading toward a close as well, the FCC said waiving the rule would help TV stations with post-auction planning and coordination. Some will go off the air, or move to different channels or even share channels as the television spectrum is repacked.

NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton said, “with the TV spectrum auction nearing completion, it is perfectly appropriate to lift some of the so-called ‘quiet rules’ that barred discussions among broadcasters prior to and during the auction.” NAB supports what it calls a “common sense” action and looks forward to completing the auction and repack “with minimal disruption.”

Preston Padden, now a television consultant, was also pleased. The former executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which supported the auction, told Inside Towers: “Kudos to the FCC Staff on being responsive to broadcaster comments and waiving the Quiet Period regarding the reverse auction. This will be a huge help as broadcasters plan for the transition.”

February 8, 2017

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