FCC Approves Spectrum Auction Framework

Republicans Dissent, Suggesting Approach May Not Be Legal

In a split decision, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday on a regulatory framework for the upcoming broadcast incentive auctions.

The item establishes the band plan for broadcast and wireless companies sharing the band, as well as the plan for repacking broadcasters after the auction.

Both Republicans dissented, saying the item was manipulating the market by limiting wireless bidders, was not necessarily holding broadcasters harmless in the band plan, and may comport with the statute.

The FCC conceded many questions remain to be answered in future items, but one thing commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC needed to do ASAP is give broadcasters some sense of what price they can expect to be offered for their spectrum.

The plan is to begin providing price and timing info starting in the summer, an FCC staffer said in outlining the item.

Rosenworcel said that in her conversations with broadcasters, the necessity of that figure was a common theme.

Commissioner Pai registered his opposition to the FCC's decision to use new TVStudy software instead of existing OET-69 methodology to determine TV station coverage areas in the repacking, something broadcasters have also said could land the auction item in court.

The auction is targeted for sometime in 2015.