Association executives brief reporters on the group’s formal comments to the FCC on its incentive auction plans. CEO Gordon Smith emphasizes: “This should not be done in a rush; it should be done with deliberate speed; it’s more important to get this done right than to get it done right now.” NAB vows to protect stations that choose not to participate and fight to preserve the coverage and population areas of stations that are forced to move.
NAB: FCC Moving Too Fast On Auction
Top executives of the National Association of Broadcasters today repeated association concerns that the FCC’s plan to hold its incentive spectrum auction next year may be overly ambitious — and they vowed to protect the rights of the vast majority of the nation’s more than 1,700 TV stations that choose to remain in broadcasting after the auctions are completed.
“This should not be done in a rush; it should be done with deliberate speed; it’s more important to get this done right than to get it done right now,” said Gordon Smith, NAB president, during a news conference at which the association released the executive summary of the formal comments that association is fileed at the FCC Friday afternoon (read the comments here).
“We think the direction given to the FCC by Congress gives those non-volunteers — those broadcasters of today and tomorrow — the protections they need, and those are the protections we’re focused on going forward,” Smith said, adding that he was personally unaware of a single NAB member who is “volunteering to go out of the business.”
Smith also said the association’s comments would focus on concerns about resolving international interference issues that will be raised by moving broadcasters off their existing channels in the border areas near Canada and Mexico; the FCC’s plans to move broadcasters who opt to remain in the business to new channels after the auctions; and the agency’s plan to divide TV spectrum into channels for the broadcasters and the wireless companies that win the rights to spectrum in the wake of the auctions.
“Those are the three stepping stones that can be pretty hot,” Smith said.
In its executive summary, the NAB also said that its comments would focus on the reimbursement funding that broadcasters who are forced to move channels — estimated by NAB at about $3 million per station — are supposed to receive from the FCC.
“Repacking is critical to achieving a positive outcome both for the auction and the future strength and innovative capacity of the broadcast industry,” the executive summary said, adding that NAB wants the FCC to publicly vet its repacking methodology.
The NAB also said the association would focus on ensuring that the FCC made “all reasonable efforts” to preserve the coverage and population areas of stations that are forced to move.
NAB EVP Rick Kaplan said: “We’re under no illusions that broadcasters that don’t participate will be better off, but at the very least we will be in there to make sure that broadcasters that don’t participate aren’t harmed.”