FCC Salutes Merger, Auction Staffers - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Salutes Merger, Auction Staffers

Developed auction software; key to approving/disapproving deals
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There are already winners in the incentive auction, and while Comcast-Time Warner Cable didn't make the grade, the FCC staffers who vetted it did.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler handed out the annual Excellence in Economic Analysis (EEA) and Excellence in Engineering (EIE) awards at the FCC's monthly meeting Sept. 17 and led the applause for their work on Comcast-TWC (and AT&T-DirecTV) and the auction, respectively.

EEA winners were Jack Erb, Paul LaFontaine, Katherine LoPiccalo, Omar Nayeem and Eugene Kiselev for their vetting of the merger applications in both deals. Winning the EIE awards for the incentive auctions were Mark Colombo, Barbara Pavon and Sasha Javid for "the analytical tools and software that are the engine 'under the hood' of the TV incentive auction." That included developing and refining repacking software and interference simulations.

Wheeler said the EIE winners were "major contributors" to the Incentive Auction Task Force. They crunched numbers to get the answers about the ramifications of various policy decisions he said, adding that their analysis helped the FCC "get to the finish line" on coordinating spectrum with Mexico and Canada.

"There is no precedent. There is no set of instructions telling them how to do this," he said. "They had to develop this themselves. Their contributions will be used as both this commission and the rest of the world replicates this kind of incentive auction concept."

He praised the EEA winners for their technical analysis of potential harms and benefits of the deals. "Their analysis became crucial predicates for why the Comcast/TWC transaction should not be approved and the AT&T/DirecTV transaction should be approved with conditions," he said.

"High quality economic analysis is a crucial input," he concluded.

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