Briefings for NAB and Sinclair Auction Lawsuit Start Oct. 31

WASHINGTON— Sinclair and the National Association of Broadcasters will proceed in tandem with their cases against the Federal Communications Commission’s incentive auction rules. Sinclair and the NAB have hammered out a joint proposal by which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear from the two on the same timeline:

- Starting Oct. 31, 2014, both parties will present initial briefs to the court. NAB’s is not to exceed 14,000 words; Sinclair’s, 10,000.
- Briefs from intervenors—including the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, the group seeking to sell spectrum; CTIA-The Wireless Association, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Competitive Carriers Association—are due Nov. 7, not to 8,750 words.
- Respondent briefs will be due Dec. 9, no more than 14,000 words.
- Briefs for intervenors in support of respondents, if any, are due Dec. 18.
- Both NAB and Sinclair’s reply briefs are due Jan. 13, 2015, at 7,000 and 5,000 words, respectively.
- Final briefs will be due Jan. 15, 2015.

The auction is tentatively scheduled for June of 2015.

The NAB is suing over a portion of the Incentive Auction Rules that involves repacking stations into the remaining spectrum. The NAB says the FCC’s methodology effectively violates Congress’ intent in the Spectrum Act.

Sinclair asked the court to vacate the FCC’s rules all together. Sinclair filed roughly a month after the NAB and after that organization had secured an expedited schedule from the court. (See John Eggerton’s “Court Agrees to Fast-Track Auction Challenge.”)

David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair, offered the following statement:
“Although there are many things we don’t like about the Spectrum Act, we strongly agree with the Act’s finding that the free market and flexible use do a much better job of bringing the best possible service to Americans from their spectrum.

Our sole interest is in preserving what broadcasters were promised when the auction legislation was passed—that participation would be voluntary and not harm remaining broadcasters after it is completed. As designed, however, the auction fundamentally harms broadcasting in general and those of us who will remain when it’s done.

Our intention is to ask the court to remedy that. In so doing, however, we are mindful of the interest in moving as quickly as is reasonable.

We have gone out of our way to file the appeal early, join with the rest of the industry on common concerns, met the FCC’s demands for an extremely short briefing schedule and agreed to concessions to the intervenors. Our goal is to resolve these issues quickly and permit the broadcast industry to upgrade broadcast television for the 21st century.”