NAB Challenges FCC'S Auction Order
NAB on Monday filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging certain elements of the FCC’s May 2014 broadcast spectrum incentive auction order.
The NAB challenged, among other things, the FCC decision to change the methodology used to predict local television coverage areas and population served, which could result in significant loss of viewership of broadcast TV stations after the FCC "repacks" TV stations into a shrunken TV band.
"Under this new methodology, many broadcast licensees, including NAB's members, will lose coverage area and population served during the auction's repacking and reassignment process, or be forced to participated in the auction (and relinquish broadcast spectrum rights)," the NAB lawsuit stated.
The petition also states that the FCC failed to take steps to preserve licensees' coverage areas in repacking, and that the FCC erred in failing to ensure proper protections for broadcast translators, which are transmitters that help boost the coverage of broadcast TV programming to more rural and remove viewers.
Rick Kaplan, NAB EVP of strategic planning, said: "NAB has engaged with the FCC throughout the incentive auction rulemaking to implement a successful auction that adheres to congressional statute, is truly voluntary, and holds harmless the millions of viewers who are reliant on local TV. Unfortunately, the FCC order oversteps congressional mandate and is likely to cause significant harm to broadcast television.
“We are not looking to delay the auction. We merely hope that, if the FCC does not change course on its own, the Court will help put the auction back on the track Congress envisioned so that we can quickly achieve a balanced auction that benefits all stakeholders," Kaplan added.
Kaplan also wrote a blog post explaining the petition and why NAB had no choice but to seek legal redress to protect broadcasters and our tens of millions of viewers.
In response to the NAB's action, Preston Padden, executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, issued this statement: "Our coalition is pleased that the NAB acted promptly after the release of the Auction Report and Order so that any legal issues can be resolved well before the mid-2015 scheduled start of the auction."