Sinclair Sues to Stop Incentive Auction

WASHINGTON—Sinclair Broadcast Group has filed a petition in federal court to stop next year’s spectrum incentive auction. The Baltimore-area broadcast group asked the court to vacate the June 2 final order of the Federal Communications Commission’s auction rules.

“Sinclair participated in the proceedings… and is aggrieved and otherwise injured by the Order,” the petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit states.

Sinclair implores the court to enjoin the Order based on three main tenets: It violates the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which contains the Spectrum Act authorizing the commission to conduct an auction in which proceeds are split with participants who contribute spectrum; it is beyond the commission’s authority, and it “is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

Sinclair joins the National Association of Broadcasters in suing over the auction. The NAB filed suit in mid-August over TVStudy, the calculative methodology by which the commission intends to repack TV stations into whatever spectrum remains after the auction. The NAB contends that TVStudy violates the language of the Spectrum Act, which states that the FCC shall “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 describes the calculations for evaluating coverage and interference among digital TV stations. The original was published Feb. 6, 2004 in anticipation of the analog-to-digital transition completed in June of 2009.

June 3, 2014,
FCC Sets Forth Rules for Incentive Auction
The FCC has issued its long-awaited Report and Order addressing the Congressionally mandated incentive auction and repacking of television broadcast spectrum. However, the 482-page document contains relatively little new information.