The FCC today issued a declaratory ruling in order to clarify the repacking approach it adopted as part of the notice of public rulemaking governing the upcoming incentive auctions.
The Commission said its repacking plan is designed to meet “Congress’s mandate to make all reasonable efforts to independently preserve TV station coverage areas and population served.” Today’s clarification is pointed toward making sure the public and all potentially affected broadcasters have all the information they need.
But Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly both offered dissenting views.
Pai pointed out the NAB’s case challenging the original repacking rules is still pending, making it an unusual time to bring up the rules, according to Radio and Television Business Report.
The NAB’s suit alleges that the FCC’s incentive auction rules could eat into broadcasters’ coverage areas and ultimately cost them viewers.
O’Rielly also came out against the ruling and added that it was more important to get everything right rather than meet the summer 2015 deadline for the incentive auctions.
In incentive auction rules issued over the summer, the FCC promised to employ a repacking methodology that simplifies the process.
During the reverse auction bidding process, the FCC says provisional channel assignments that “satisfy applicable requirements will be identified, ensuring that a feasible channel is available for every station that remains on the air.”
After the reverse auction bidding ends, final channel assignments “will be optimized to strive for additional goals, such as minimizing relocation costs for broadcasters assigned to new channels.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations