In a speech to the Americas Spectrum Management Conference
in Washington this week, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn emphasized that the
FCC's upcoming incentive auctions are going to be voluntary, but also suggested
there were some volunteers in the wings.
"[T]o me, the most important aspect of this auction is
that it is voluntary. That means TV broadcasters may, if it is in their
interests, choose to submit bids to give up their spectrum rights in exchange
for payment...While we don't know exactly how much spectrum incentive auctions
will free up, there has been great interest generated from broadcasters and
wireless service providers," she said.
Asked to clarify what the commissioner meant by "great
interest" -- the National Association of Broadcasters says it has seen no
rush by its members to cash out -- an aide said she meant both that the office
had been hearing from broadcasters, including the National Association of
Broadcasters, complaining as part of a public relations strategy prior to the
statute being enacted. But her office also said she meant that she had heard
from some folks who are carefully examining whether there are financial
incentives to participate.
There have also already been a series of webinars on the auctions
that her office estimated included participation by as many as 800 broadcasters.
Broadcasters will also be looking for more info on the auctions Friday (Oct.
26) at the FCC's first incentive auction workshop.