Sellers' Coalition to Weigh in on Sinclair Auction Lawsuit

WASHINGTON—The group of stations looking to sell their spectrum at the federal incentive auction are preparing to weigh in on a lawsuit to stop it filed by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition intends to file a motion to intervene in the suit, according to an informed executive.

Sinclair filed suit last month against the Federal Communications Commission’s June 2 Incentive Auction Order, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to vacate it. Sinclair told the court the Order violated the Spectrum Act passed by Congress in 2012, exceeded commission authority and was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The National Association of Broadcasters also sued the commission over the auction, specifically, the FCC’s calculative method for repacking TV stations. The NAB’s lawsuit, filed in mid-August, claims the methodology known as TVStudy will result in reduced coverage for a large number of TV stations.

The 2012 Spectrum Act instructs the FCC to “make all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of Feb. 22, 2012, the coverage area and population served of each television licensee, as determined using the methodology described in OET-69,” which was used to calculate coverage and interference among digital TV stations for the analog-to-digital transition completed in June, 2009.

The source said the NAB, the FCC and Sinclair are in negotiations, with information due to the court this Friday, after which briefings likely are to be scheduled.