The promise of the incentive auction was that volunteering broadcasters would be paid for the value of their spectrum. The duplex gap plan seems designed instead artificially to reduce the prices the FCC may have to pay in crowded and border markets. If the FCC is going to be the honest broker it claims to be in the upcoming auction, it should not be placing its finger on the scale.
A group of five Democratic Senators warned FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that putting TV broadcasters in the duplex gap could inhibit live, local news, emergency communications and space for unlicensed uses. The FCC is set to vote Thursday on spectrum auction procedures that include a proposal to allow it to repack TV stations in the duplex gap, the 11 MHz of space between the uplink and downlink frequencies in the mobile spectrum.
The National Association of Broadcasters, one of the biggest critics of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to repack some TV stations in the duplex gap, has decided to steer a middle course. But the NAB’s proposal still leaves some stations in the duplex gap in at least six markets.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler defended the commission’s proposal to repack some television stations into the duplex gap, the space between uplink and downlink frequencies in the mobile wireless spectrum. If the FCC doesn’t have the option, Wheeler said it would “negatively” affect the cash broadcasters would get.
A diverse group of broadcasters and a bipartisan group of lawmakers asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to think twice before repacking broadcasters in the so-called duplex gap because it would inhibit live news reporting and deprive consumers of next-generation services.