Washington

FCC's Wheeler: Not Going To Rush Auction Schedule

Channel sharing a good option for broadcasters 12/02/2013 06:00:00 PM Eastern

RELATED: Wheeler: Net Is Not Reg-Free Zone

Following his first major address—at his alma mater (The) Ohio State University—FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler signaled he was not going to rush an incentive auction schedule given the unprecedented complexity of the task.

Wheeler touched on the importance of the auctions in his speech, but in follow-up questioning said that the FCC was not going to be "rushed" and have "reality catch up with us."

Elaborating, he pointed to the software problems with healthcare.gov. He said that given that the FCC was going to be conducting a simultaneous forward and reverse auction, something that had never been done before, he wanted to make sure the software was "up to the task."

A similar point was made by National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith at a B&C/Multi TV Week interview in New York back in October.

Wheeler was also sounding like a broadcaster in his praise for that medium. Asked what he could say to buck up TV execs in a telecom-centric world, he said broadcasters continued to serve an important public service, including being "the place to go" in times of emergency, and that he expected they would always have an important public service and public safety role.

That said, he added that spectrum wasn't being made anymore, that the question the FCC was asking was there a more efficient use, and said the marketplace should decide. He said he thought channel sharing was a pretty good option for broadcasters, involving both a payout and continued cable and satellite carriage.

In that, he was sounding less like broadcasters, many of whom argue that they will need all of their spectrum to deliver the sharp pictures and experiment with the kind of advanced services consumers want and will be getting from the broadband competition.

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