Spectrum Sellers Oppose Ratings Bias

Preston Padden, head of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, says the FCC is considering language for its upcoming spectrum auction guidelines that would give lower powered Class A stations “a small percent of what a full-power station gets, and that is crazy.” He adds: “The metric should be the contribution to clearing the spectrum that the FCC wants to auction, not station ratings, nothing else.”

Broadcasters that are considering cashing in their TV channels in an FCC auction to repurpose spectrum for wireless broadband are sounding an alarm because some agency officials are said to be promoting auction regulations that would discriminate against stations with lower ratings and power.

“We’ve got some people at the FCC who are saying arbitrarily that all Class A’s (lower-powered full-service stations) should get a small percent of what a full-power station gets, and that is crazy,” said Preston Padden, executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, in an interview with TVNewsCheck last night. “The metric should be the contribution to clearing the spectrum that the FCC wants to auction, not station ratings, nothing else.”

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Under the FCC’s so-incentive auction — which the agency has proposed to conduct next year — the agency is hoping to pay broadcasters to give up enough TV channels in the nation’s largest markets so the FCC can auction a cleared nationwide band of TV spectrum to meet the burgeoning consumer demand for smartphone and other wireless communications devices.

But Padden said that some agency representatives — whom he declined to identify — want to give bigger TV stations in a market a larger slice of the auction pie than smaller stations in the same market.

“It does not matter to a wireless carrier whether the spectrum it receives was previously occupied by a full-power or a Class A station or a station with high or low ratings,” said the coalition, a group of broadcasters that are interested in participating in the auctions, in official reply comments slated to be filed at the FCC today.

In the interview, Padden, a former Walt Disney lobbyist, also said the coalition in its reply comments is urging the FCC to ax an agency proposal that would limit eligibility to participate in the auctions to stations that had their operations licensed as of Feb. 22, 2012 — the day the auction legislation was enacted.

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The coalition is asking the FCC to include as eligible anyone who applied for a construction permit before Feb. 22 last year and then has their license granted and their facility built out before the incentive auction is actually held.

“The other thing is that they [the FCC commissioners] have got to make it clear that broadcasters who give up their spectrum are going to get paid right away, no matter what else happens,” Padden said.

“If there are lawsuits, if some of the wireless carriers are slow in paying, that shouldn’t affect these stations, because once they commit to sell their spectrum, their business is over, and they have got to get paid right away,” Padden said.

In its reply comments at the FCC, the coalition identifies its members as “broadcasters who are the licensees or hold rights to acquire more than 40 stations in the nation’s largest, most spectrum-constrained markets.”


Comments (6) -

Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Ha, ha, ha, ha. These clowns forgot the first rule of playing for stakes with the government: the government holds all the cards, controls the shoe and makes up all the rules. If these jokers are buying stations on spec, they just may run the risk of actually becoming broadcasters.
Chuck Nickname posted over 4 years ago
The whole thing is a sham. There are not enough frequencies left (after the loss of channels 52-69) to adequately provide OTA television in many markets--not just the largest. No "Broadcaster" should be paid for spectrum. If they don't want to use the spectrum they are licensed to use then they should just turn in their licenses. As viewers we regularly have reception problems related to channels being located too close to other stations on the same frequency. Repacking again will just make it worse. The FCC seems to be determined to destroy OTA television. Our TV bill each month is currently $0 and we don't want to pay over $100 a month to get the same service.
Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Since the FCC can't force a full power or Class A off the air, how else are you going to induce a station owner to turn in the license and basically go out of business? Would you like it if, after all your hard work and investment, the government came along and shut your business down without any compensation simply because they wanted the land your business was sitting on?
tvengr Nickname posted over 4 years ago
There is a tiny sliver of a point that they make - except that a Class A low power is NOT as valuable as a full-power, no matter how big the market. Perhaps the payout ought to be related to the sq. mile area of protected contour that gets freed up!
Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Theoretically the spectrum is worth the same whether it is occupied by a Class A or full power. But it doesn't make sense to compensate a Class A owner who generally paid much less for the station the same amount as a more expensive full power. To be fair, the compensation should be commensurate with the value of the station. But in all cases, speculators are paying such high multiples for these stations, the FCC will never be able to cover the price of what was paid let alone any more then that. For example, a full power station in Nashville sold last year for over 200 million. You can't tell me the FCC is going to pay out that amount and more to reclaim that station's spectrum. When it comes to the VIA, buying low and selling high is also the Commission's mantra.
bbandeveywheuh Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Of course it is worth as much as any other station (i.e, Full Power). The spectrum pledged by a Class A will be valued based on the total market coverage that will be realized for wireless service, not any metrics of station cash flow or anything else.
Marketshare Blog Playout Blog




Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
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