Wireless and Broadcast Lobbies Seek More Time on Incentive Auction Comment Period

WASHINGTON: The National Association of Broadcasters and CTIA—The Wireless Association, have jointly requested an extension of the comment period on the incentive auction proceeding. The Federal Communications Commission initiated the proceeding Sept. 28.

The deadline for comments is currently Dec. 21, 2012, with replies due Feb. 19, 2013. CTIA and NAB asked for a one-month extension of both, to Jan. 25 and March 26, 2013, respectively.

“A limited extension is in the public interest to allow interested parties the time necessary to address the complicated economic, engineering and policy issues raised by the Incentive Auction Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and to assist the commission in discharging its responsibilities under the… Spectrum Act,” their filing stated.

They noted that the incentive auction NPRM, published in the Federal Register today, addressed a “wide range of issues,” including the structure and timing of the reverse auction intended to provide some idea of valuations, and the forward auction in which new participants would buy broadcast spectrum. The NPRM also covers the process of repacking the TV stations left standing after the auction, which is to take place in June of 2014. The TV spectrum incentive auction would be the first of its type ever held by the FCC.

“The novelty and uniqueness of this auction require that all interested parties thoroughly digest and analyze the complex set of issues presented in order to ensure that the auction has the best chance for success,” the filing from CTIA and NAB notes. “…we believe that this additional period will ultimately expedite the process rather than delay it.”

The lobbies acknowledged that the FCC does not “routinely” grant extensions for comment cycles, but argued that it was warranted “to ensure the commission receives full and informed responses, and that affected parties have a meaningful opportunity to develop a complete record for the commission’s consideration.”