FCC to Send Broadcasters Economic Pitch For Auction - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC to Send Broadcasters Economic Pitch For Auction

Wheeler says packets will start coming out tomorrow
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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that the FCC will start sending info packets to broadcasters this week, prepared by an investment banker, making the economic case for why they should participate in the incentive auction.

Wheeler has been arguing the auction is a unique, virtually risk-free, opportunity for broadcasters to capitalize on their spectrum, but said with the packets, broadcasters don't have to take his word for it.

The auction is scheduled for mid-year 2015, but several parties, including the National Association of Broadcasters, have challenged the auction in court, which could potentially push back that timetable.

In a press conference following the FCC's public meeting Tuesday (Sept. 30), Wheeler signaled the data drop.

He said nothing was more critical to the success of the auction than broadcaster participation. That is because the auction is voluntary, and if no broadcaster showed up, there would be no spectrum to auction to wireless companies hungry for more.

"Tomorrow we will begin sending to every eligible broadcaster an information package that was prepared for the FCC by investment banker Greenhill Associates," said Wheeler, holding out a copy. "It will describe in detail the economic potential of the auction. This is an economic decision that broadcasters have to make. Let's approach this like a traditional economic transaction."

He said that armed with the info, he hoped and expected broadcasters to give the auction "careful consideration."

"We are glad the FCC is providing more information publicly for potential broadcast participants in the auction," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton. "That is a key part of the auction. If we can just get balanced protections for those who choose not to participate, we think we'll see a terrific auction."

"We are glad the FCC is providing more information publicly for potential broadcast participants in the auction," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton. "That is a key part of the auction. If we can just get balanced protections for those who choose not to participate, we think we'll see a terrific auction."

"We enthusiastically thank and applaud Chairman Wheeler and the diligent FCC Staff for providing television broadcasters with this vital financial guidance," said Preston Padden, executvie director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition. "We believe that next year's Incentive Auction will be an historic and important opportunity for many broadcasters and we hope and expect that this financial guidance will confirm that fact."

The coalition is made up of broadcasters interested in putting spectrum up for auction at the right price.

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