FCC: Broadcasters Can File Anonymously on Spectrum Auctions

Commission Still Wants Info for Public to Figure Out Policy Perspective
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The FCC wants broadcasters to know that they can file anonymous comments on the commission's proposed framework for incentive spectrum auctions.

In a public notice, the FCC told broadcasters that its rules allow for anonymous comment so long as they have an attorney of record, and even without one they can seek a waiver of that requirement.

The legislation creating the auctions recognized that, for business reasons, broadcasters might not want to signal they were interested in selling some or all of their spectrum, and so required the FCC not to identify the bidders publicly.

In that spirit, the FCC recognized that some commenters might not want to be associated with the issues or questions they raise.

"We want to encourage those broadcasters interested in auction participation to raise issues of specific concern to them regarding the incentive auction process so that we may develop a robust record to assist us in devising auction-related rule," the FCC said in the notice for those providing comment. "At the same time, we recognize that broadcasters may have legitimate reasons for not wanting to disclose their potential interest in reverse auction participation."

It was a reminder, rather than any change of policy. But the FCC also said it wants commenters to provide enough information so that the public can gauge where they are coming from policy-wise if not identity-wise.

"We request that any broadcaster filing anonymously provide sufficient basic information to enable to Commission and the public to understand and evaluate the positions it takes in its comments. Such information may include, for example, the market tier in which the station operates and whether it is network-affiliated or independent."

Former Disney and News Corp. exec and lobbyist for independent stations Preston Padden is representing some 25 major market stations who he says have expressed interest in participating in the auction.