FCC Delays Auction

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On Friday, the FCC announced they would postpone the 2015 Incentive Auction until early 2016. This auction is meant to reallocate airwaves now used by broadcast television stations for use by mobile phone companies. The New York Times reported, “The commission attributed the delay in part to a pending lawsuit filed by the National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group for the television industry, and to the need for more time to recruit television stations to participate.” This auction is likely to be the largest and most complicated sale of airwaves because it involves multiple steps where broadcasters agree to give up their airwaves or move their signals to new spots on the electromagnetic spectrum in exchange for a portion of the proceeds of their sale. What has upset the NAB is that even if stations do not participate in the auction, their spot on the spectrum could be moved anyway to help create contiguous blocks of airwaves for sale to mobile phone companies. Jennifer Fritzsche, Senior Analyst at Wells Fargo, commented that this move by the FCC is not such a surprise. “With the broadcasters’ recent legal challenge, there was much doubt that the original timeframe would be achieved. That said, we continue to believe this 600MHz piece of spectrum will garner much interest from each of the Big 4 carriers – especially those (i.e. TMUS and S) that lack this ‘beach front’ low band spectrum in their portfolio.”

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