In a press conference after the FCC's public meeting on
Wednesday, FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski did not given any indication of
his future plans and would not say whether the FCC would open up a new comment
window on an incentive auction band plan that has been criticized by both
broadcasters and wireless companies.
While FCC commissioner Robert McDowell announced that he
would be stepping down in a few weeks, though he did not say to do what, that
trend of announced exits did not extent to the chairman, who deflected a
question about his own plans by saying it was McDowell's day, praising the commissioner.
When pressed, he added, "The question has been asked and answered. No news
to report and I have nothing to announce."
He spent a good deal more time not exactly responding to the
question about the National Association of Broadcasters request that the FCC
put the TV station post-repacking band plan up for an additional round of
comment. NAB says the variable plan that has stations and wireless operators
potential using the same channel in different markets is
the wrong way to go. NAB incentive auction point man Rick Kaplan, former
head of the FCC's Wireless Bureau, this week called for the new comments and
said he expected the FCC would comply.
Genachowski was making no promises, and in fact sounded more
like the FCC was not planning to change course. He said that
"everything that has happened since Congress passed the incentive auction
has made me more optimistic about the opportunities of this new idea as we move
forward," though it was unclear whether he was talking about the band plan
or the incentive auctions writ large.
But ran through a list of things the FCC had proposed -- that
there was a spectrum crunch, that incentive auctions were a good idea, that
Congress would pass legislation -- that had succeeded despite the naysayers.
"There will continue to be healthy debate about it and
the commission will keep moving forward," he said. "It is a big,
exciting idea to free up very valuable, desirable spectrum for mobile
And while NAB said the FCC should not be in a
hurry to hold the auctions given the outstanding issues over the band plan and
international coordination and how the FCC calculates interference and coverage
areas, the chairman said Wednesday that it needs to get done "on a
schedule that maximizes opportunity, so, as quick as we can."