McAdams On: Spectrum Auction NPRM
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION: I
was rambling on about the giant TV wars when the FCC today released the agenda
for its regular open meeting, scheduled for Sept. 28, 2012. The news broke last
night—though not in this little hamlet—that the commission intended to take up
TV incentive auctions at the September meeting.
Rather than tackle them piecemeal, the commission is opting for a single
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that covers “the whole enchilada,” as my esteemed
and decidedly handsome colleague, John Eggerton, reports at B&C.
While I have not confirmed that John is a shape-shifter who wanders the
commission halls picking up conversations like a mynah bird, he unquestionably
has a direct line into the commission.
An all-inclusive incentive auction NPRM suggests the commission never had any
intention of producing the Allotment Optimization Model by which it determined
that all TV stations would fit into 40 percent less spectrum. It’s clear that this
Administration and this FCC will stop at nothing to hand the airwaves over to the
wireless industry, which in truth has little use for UHF spectrum, at least
with their current receiver technology. (And they clearly have no intention of
improving their receiver technology before
they get the TV spectrum because then they wouldn’t need it, which they don’t,
but that’s another matter.)
Broadcasters and the public deserve to know how the commission came up with the
40 percent figure. Just how was it determined that 1,800 full-power TV stations
and thousands of low-power stations and translators could spare 120 MHz of spectrum?
No one yet knows. All signs indicate the figure was arbitrary at its most
benign, or more nefariously, suggested by wireless industry operatives who
stand to make billions off of consumers sucked into believing they are somehow
being done a favor by the wholesale destruction of broadcast television.
Congress ordered the FCC to “make all reasonable
efforts to preserve, as of the enactment date of this act, the coverage area and population served of each
broadcast television licensee.”
We’ll soon see how that goes.