Tuesday the FCC Media Bureau released additional guidance to broadcasters with which to file anonymous comments in the incentive auction NPRM.
The Public Notice stated:
“By this Notice, the Media Bureau provides guidance for broadcasters interested in filing comments regarding the incentive auction process without disclosing their identities. Generally, when a party identifies itself it improves the ability of both the Commission and the public to evaluate the position the party takes in the proceeding, thus benefiting the rulemaking process. Our existing rules, however, allow the filing of anonymous rulemaking comments. Section 1.419(e) requires that a party filing in electronic format and not represented by an attorney provide its name and mailing address.”
The Media Bureau recognized that broadcasters may have “legitimate reasons for not wanting to disclose their potential interest in reverse auction participation.” The FCC is allowing anonymous comments may file electronically or in writing so long as they have an attorney of record. Broadcasters wishing to file anonymously without an attorney will need to request a waiver of section 1.419(e).
The Commission requested any broadcaster filing anonymously provide “sufficient basic information to enable the Commission and the public to understand and evaluate the positions it takes in its comments.” This information may include the market tier in which the station operates and whether it is network affiliated or independent.
One reason broadcasters may not wish to signal their participation in the reverse auction is that there is no guarantee that a broadcaster's bid will be accepted. A station on Channel 49 asking for more money for its spectrum than a station in the same market on Channel 20 may find the FCC accepts the bid for Channel 20 and relocates the Channel 49 station to Channel 20.